The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project faces an expected hurdle as senior local leaders vow block the project if the displaced persons are not fully compensated by end of August, just five months away.
The district leaders say they will mobilise the people to reoccupy their lands making it impossible for the construction of the pipeline to go ahead.
The unprecedented ultimatum was issued at Masaka’s Brovad Hotel on Friday by angry leaders who included the renowned ‘man of action’ George Mutabaazi, outgoing Lwengo District Chairman.
Kyotera district chairman Patrick Kintu Kisekulo the displaced persons expected their compensation way back in August 2018 and have now run out of patience.
A bitter Kisekulo said that the campaigns of recently concluded elections in the affected areas were dominated by the delayed compensation, with candidates maligning incumbents saying they had secured the compensation and “eaten” it instead of ensuring it got to the displaced persons.
Lwengo’s Mutabaazi says the pipeline has become a curse for the people, some of whom have even died before receiving their compensation.
In Uganda, the pipeline will pass through the districts of Hoima, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Kyotera, Rakai and Kikuube.
Beyond Uganda, the 1, 147 km will pass through eight regions of Tanzania namely Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Tabora, Singida, Dodoma, Manyara and Tanga, where the port is located.
Mutabazi vowed to rally the afftected persons in Lwengo to return to their lands and utilize it if the government fails to pay them by August.
What has inflamed the people and the leaders most is that the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) had promised to start compensation in December 2020 or early January 2021, but this has not happened.
The Senior Engagement Officer of PAU, Didas Muhumuza, told the stakeholders that the communication over the said payment “was an oversight” that was not intended to go out and the authority has since retracted it.
Muhumuza promised that this was being worked on as they have even had several discussions with the affected persons and the different Civil Society Organisations concerned with the human rights issues in the oil pipeline project.
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