The National Unity Platform (NUP) President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has applauded the European Union (EU) parliament’s resolution seeking to delay the development of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Kyagulanyi who has just returned from a trip to Europe was on Wednesday addressing a press conference at the NUP headquarters in Kamwokya, Kampala.
Last week, the EU Parliament voted by a majority of 334 to pass a resolution that seeks to compel Uganda, Tanzania, and TotalEnergies to delay the development of the proposed EACOP for at least one year.
The MPs cited major environmental and climate risks posed by the project. They said there is a need to find an alternative route that would not affect as many people and the ecosystem as well as a review of alleged human rights abuses especially in Uganda.
They argued that if EACOP goes on, it would be an affront to the efforts to combat climate change. They mentioned carbon emissions as a contributing factor to worldwide catastrophes that have also affected Uganda like the rise of mudslides in the Elgon region.
Since the resolution was passed last week, it has solicited active conversation with some leaders and ordinary Ugandans condemning it as a move by the EU to interfere with the sovereignty of Uganda.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayeebwa last week said the motion seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socio-economic growth and development.
But Kyagulanyi concurred with the EU MPs echoing the gross human rights abuses and environmental abuses being involved in the project.
He alleges that several people especially from the Bunyoro region have been evicted from their land.
Kyagulanyi further said that he is aware of the importance of the oil project, but he says it is most likely not to serve the real purpose therefore a delay is an advantage.
But Peter Muliisa, the head of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), does not agree with the figures put up by Kyagulanyi. He also refuted claims that there are people who were evicted violently.
“For the oil project, we have 3,648 affected persons, we have valued their land, we have agreed with everyone except two people we are still having a conversation with. We have signed agreements with 72% of those people. 56% percent have already received their money, and compensation, and the rest are going to receive it by December. Our target is to make sure that by December, every one of them has received their compensation”, Muliisa said.
“In terms of how much money we are paying, we are considering the market value of the land to date. In addition to the commercial of the land with an additional 30% disturbance allowance. And where we have delayed paying, we are paying an additional 15% uplift a year, where we have delayed”, he added.
He further said that they have since set up a livelihood restoration programme that is supposed to monitor these people as they undergo transition.
“Now, these are over and above what we should ordinarily pay them which is the commercial value of the land. We have also put them on a livelihood restoration programme where we provide food and seedlings for them to plant and we are monitoring to ensure that as they transition their livelihood is not in any way disturbed.”
“Now there are some who have chosen houses instead of money, it’s 210 of them. So I do not understand what is being said about people who have not been compensated. The project can be opposed by anyone who wants to oppose we don’t mind, but we need to speak on facts,” he added.
Once completed, the Ugandan-Tanzania pipeline which will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania will be the world’s longest heated oil pipeline, stretching 1,443 kilometers (896 miles).