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Bickering Continues over Alleged EACOP Environmental Impact :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Bickering Continues over Alleged EACOP Environmental Impact

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Reports from environmental activists and denials from the government and Oil companies puzzle Ugandans and the international community on who to believe.
28 Jul 2023 14:27
A map by the ministry of Energy and partners showing EACOP route. Some activists have said the pipeline will go through Lake Victoria

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An environment and energy activists group insists that the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline will affect 158 wetlands along its route from Hoima to Mutukula.   

  

The African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIGO) released the findings of a study it commissioned around the wetland system to be affected by the proposed longest heated pipeline in the world.

Alongside the report, it released a factsheet which outlines the likely social-economic impacts of the pipeline that will transport Uganda’s oil through the port of Tanga. 

       

According to AFEIGO’s publicist, Diana Nabiruma, of concern is the fact that the EACOP is set to affect the Kibale/Bukoora wetland system, which begins in Western Uganda and connects to Kyotera as well as Rakai district in south Uganda.   

      

She also says the Ramsar site is in the Sango Bay-Musamba Island-Kagera or generally the Samuka Wetland System.   

     

AFIEGO suggests that it is important to conserve the EACOP-affected and other wetlands in Uganda because it would be expensive or impossible to replace the roles they play if they are destroyed.  So AFIEGO urges EACOP to stop any oil sector infrastructural developments in wetlands, mostly those linked to Ramsar sites. 

    

The report by AFEIGO comes a few weeks after TotalEnergies the lead shareholder in the $3.5 billion, 1,443-kilometre pipeline issued a statement about the ten misconceptions about the project whose construction is about to begin.    

    

TotalEnergies clarified that EACOP will not cut across Lake Victoria or Lake Albert which are vital water sources for the region. It said water pollution risks caused by the EACOP pipeline were therefore taken into account.   

    

About concerns that the pipeline will damage wetlands, TotalEnergies said thepipeline route was designed to minimize its impact on the landscape and biodiversity and to avoid IUCN-protected areas.

 

The Petroleum Authority (PAU) which regulates the oil and gas sector insists that opposition against EACOP has been based on untruths, spin, and deliberate disinformation or misinformation.

PAU Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Ali Ssekatawa has in the past insisted that the EACOP project underwent rigorous Environmental Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) based on international best practices.

  

The ESIA was conducted by UK-based RSK Group together with ECO and Partner from Uganda. It was approved by the National Environment Authority in December 2020.  

      

Then NEMA Executive Director, Tom Okurut, pledged that the government’s environment agency will in collaboration with other lead agencies monitor the project to ensure that to ensure compliance with the Certificate’s conditions of approval.

“Monitoring is a continuous process and will be undertaken during the construction, operation, and decommissioning phases, this we shall do to ensure the health, safety, and security of the environment, communities, and workers,” said Okurut.  

     

Despite the assurances, reports alleging that EACOP will destroy the environment and it will force thousands of people to move off their land, continued.   

  

This month, a Human Rights  Watch 47-page report, “‘Our Trust is Broken’: Loss of Land and Livelihoods for Oil Development in Uganda,” said although 90 percent of people who will lose land to the project have received compensation from TotalEnergies EP Uganda, the project has suffered from multiyear delays in paying compensation and inadequate compensation.  

Felix Horne, senior environment researcher at Human Rights Watch, said EACOP is also a disaster for the planet and the project should not be completed. 

Uganda National Oil Company’s Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer, Peter Muliisa said in an interview with URN that they did speak to Human Rights Watch, and gave it all the information but they published none of that. 

  

“So when Human Rights Watch says that the project has left people worse off, it is the highest level of presumption and bias,” said Muliisa whose company handles the Government of Uganda's commercial interests in the petroleum sector. 

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He said in reality what has been done on the ground is to ensure that the project leaves people in the community in a better state.

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The Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga recently dispelled fears that the EACOP will lead to the death of wildlife. 

Mayiga however told URN that while it is important that environmental safeguards are adhered to when constructing projects like EACOP, he is of the view that campaigns against it are not based on facts on the ground. 

“I don’t think any of our animal populations are going to be affected by the parks that are being set up to extract or explore oil," said Mayiga. "So those reports about the environment are not necessarily correct. And I don’t think that the East African Crude Oil is going to destroy the environment because a big portion of the pipelines goes through the kingdom of Buganda, which I’m familiar with, and there are no animal populations that are going to be destroyed by the pipeline.”

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Reports by environmental activists and denials from the government and Oil companies puzzle Ugandans and the international community over whom to believe.