By Kiconco Agnes
KAKUMIRO – The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has on Monday 21 held a public hearing for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in accordance with Regulation 22 of the National Environment (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, 1998.
The public hearing was held in preparation for the drilling of oil since its discovery in 2006. During that time, an estimated total of 6 billion barrels of oil, we’re discovered in Uganda with 1.4 billion barrels as recoverable.
The hearing is a forum in which all relevant stakeholders and developers are brought together to express opinions and offer suggestions on the proposed project so as to influence the decision-making process during the review of the ESIA.
The Deputy Executive Director National Environmental Management Authority(NEMA) Christine Echookit welcoming everyone to the public hearing, said that the occasion was being held for people to express their views and leave comments both positive and negative.
“This is a series of public hearings and so far, this is the first one. Mainly, we discuss compensation, benefits of the project, concerns on the environment that is air, land and water pollution, health and also education comes in,” said Echookit.
She also added to say that there will be a window opened for 5 days or so for the public to bring in comments and concerns.
During an interview, Member of Parliament Buganga is East Kakumiro District Onesmus Twineamatsiko said that the problem of land grabbing is on the rise because of the land compensation.
“we are now seeing loaded men coming from Kampala, giving money to ministry staff and they get brand new titles yet the locals occupying some of the land have no land titles,” said Mr. Twineamatsiko.
The Kakumiro LC5 Mr. Joseph Senkusu Sentayi during an interview addressed the issue of compensation of land owners.
“6 sub-counties are to be compensated but so far, it’s now 3years yet no compensation for both land owners and the land scooters.” said the LC5.
Hon. Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Peter Lokeris in attendance, addressed the land issue advising people not to sale their land so as to use the money given for compensation to develop the area adjacent to the pipeline.
“I hear some people from Kampala have come to buy land here but I mean, we are only taking a corridor of diameter 30 meters only across. This is the only place we are going to compensate. So, don’t sell your land for anything. Those of you where the pipe is passing, just use the compensation money to develop the area adjacent to the pipeline,” said Lokeris.
In addition, the Hon. Minister of Energy and Mineral Development also mentioned that compensation will be given but the government is verifying to avoid corruption.
More so,” if you grow the figure of compensation very high, there will be no benefit for the rest of the people of Uganda,” emphasized Minister Lokeris.
With the series of the 3 public hearings in Kakumiro District, Mubende District and Rakai District respectively, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda(PAU) together with other stakeholders, is expected to enable the production of crude oil from the Lake Albert development area to be constructed to the coast of Tanzania.
The project also aims at exporting oil to international markets which is why an export pipeline to Tanga- Tanzania was proposed.