At least 100 people along the proposed route of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Kyotera district have petitioned parliament protesting the compensation rates offered to them by the project implementers.
The project-affected persons in Nabigasa sub-county are aggrieved by what they describe as unfair compensation for their crops that will be destroyed to pave way for the crude oil pipeline.
Led by Vincent Birimuye, the petitioners are opposed to the fees of Sh 33,000 and Sh25,000 as the evaluated cost for coffee and banana plants respectively, arguing the rates are unfair compared to the evaluation reports in other districts.
He indicates that although they resolved to halt the signing of any evaluation and compensation forms, pending response to their complaints raised to the project implementers including Total Energies E&P Uganda, Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), some of their colleagues are underhandedly being compromised into consenting to the unfair compensation values.
Using the neighboring Lwengo district as a benchmark where each coffee and banana plant was valued at Sh88,000 and Sh50,000 respectively, Birimuye wants the same compensation rate to be applied in Kyotera.
The petitioners have through the area members of Parliament asked parliament to urgently cause an inquiry into the property evaluation exercise conducted in Kyotera district, fearing that some of the affected persons may completely lose out on their livelihoods should they be forced to accept the unfair fees.
Marian Najjagwe, another project-affected person in the area says that it is high time parliament took a direct interest in the project compensation processes to save the people from undue exploitation by the contractors.
Besides parliament, she has also appealed to the Kyotera District Chairperson Patrick Kintu Kisekulo to organize an open meeting with all project affected persons to listen to their grievances.
She says in her communication: “As you will recall, the affected people have previously engaged you and TotalEnergies through petitions and meetings over these compensation grievances.
During these engagements in December last year, we agreed not to open bank accounts until our compensation grievances are addressed.
But before the companies could update us on the progress of settling these concerns, some of the affected persons are being used to lure their colleagues to accept the rates that we roundly rejected.”
The Kyotera L.CV Chairperson Patrick Kintu Kisekulo and John Paul Lukwago Mpalanyi constituency MP confirms receiving the petitions, saying it has given them a basis to follow up on the grievances with the responsible authorities.
Kisekulo observes that much as they appreciate the implementation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) because of its great significance to the country’s petroleum prospects, they have the duty to ensure the residents are equally safeguarded from any exploitation by the implementers.
But Fred Bazalabusa, the Officer in Charge of the Land Acquisition process in the project in a recent interview downplayed arguments of unfair compensation indicating that the contractors will use rates approved by the Chief Government Valuer.
He encouraged the PAPs to freely register their frustrations of disputes with PAU for handling. The 1,443Km long East African Crude Oil Pipeline that will run through 10 districts in Uganda, will facilitate the moving of the Country’s waxy crude oil from Hoima to Tanga port in Tanzania.
According to the EACOP Project design, Kyotera district has a total of 254 people who will be affected by the pipeline.
Of these, 13 will be physically displaced and 232 acres of land will be taken and occupied by the pipeline in the area.