Bunyoro Kitara kingdom has expressed its disdain for last week's European Union parliament resolution that called for halting of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), pending environmental impact and human rights reviews.
The European Parliament is concerned over what it called a lack of environmental safeguards and violation of human rights especially on project-affected persons (PAPs). But Bunyoro king, Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru Agutamba Rukirabasaija said the kingdom is not happy with the EU Parliament.
Speaking on behalf of Bunyoro king Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru Agutamba Rukirabasaija, Andrew Byakutaga, the kingdom prime minister said delaying the project that could further spur infrastructural development in his kingdom and the country at large is totally unacceptable.
According to Byakutaga, the EU parliament's concerns don't hold because the kingdom is aware that the government and development partners undertook all the necessary environmental impact assessments (EIA) as part of the project implementation process.
The ESIA's according to Byakutaga identified mitigation measures to address the potential adverse effects of the project on the environment and host communities. Moreover, he said, the EU parliament passed a resolution without consulting the kingdom which is at the centre of the project.
Byakutaga says the kingdom is in full support of the government to immediately construct the EACOP saying the region has already started benefiting from the oil project, citing the construction of the oil roads, provision of jobs, the establishment of Hoima city and improvement in other infrastructures.
"Oil and gas projects have so far improved the social and economic welfare of the people as evidenced by the construction of more roads, hospitals, and livelihood social programmes that have been undertaken by the oil companies and government. Oil and gas projects have already given employment and business opportunities to our people in Bunyoro and Ugandans and some people from other countries including Europe," said Byakutaga.
Byakutaga further explains that the EACOP environmental social impact assessment (ESIA) was comprehensively done and approved by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), adding that the Kingdom was a witness to the ESIA studies that were conducted by the government of Uganda.
"Environmental and social impact studies were conducted and public hearings where Bunyoro kingdom and other stakeholders participated...It is true that some PAPs raised some issues such as compensation rates and other social issues especially at the state of the project and these were either addressed or are being addressed," said Byakutaga.
The European Parliament resolution adopted raised concern over human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in the oil and gas sector. The resolution zeroed on wrongful imprisonment of human rights defenders, the arbitrary suspension of NGOs, arbitrary prison sentences and the eviction of hundreds of people from their land without fair and adequate compensation.
According to the EU parliament, more than 100,000 people were at risk of being displaced by the EACOP project and demanded for they be adequately compensated.
The EU Parliament also tasked to put to an end the extractive activities in the protected and sensitive ecosystems including the shores of lake Albert citing the 132 wells that Total Energies plans to dig in Murchison Falls national park and other protected areas where the heated EACOP pipeline will pass.
The 1,443km crude oil export pipeline will transport Uganda’s crude oil from Hoima in Uganda to the Chongoleani peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania.
When complete, it will be the longest electrically heated pipeline in the world and will cross through 10 districts in Uganda, a distance of 296 kilometres, and 25 districts in Tanzania, covering eight regions and 25 districts. The government rolled out the program of acquiring land for the project in August 2018.
According to the agreed plan, the pipeline route will begin from Hoima through Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera, and Rakai, and cross the Tanzania border between Masaka and Bukoba, and traverse Tanzania through Kahama, Singida, Kondoa, into Tanga.