KAKUMIRO – Regarding the series of public hearings in Kakumiro, Mubende and Rakai districts, several findings have been pointed out by the locals concerning the East African Crude Oil Project (EACOP).
A public 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 review of the Environmental Social Impact Assessment(ESIA).
The major issues pointed out were about compensation as when it will be paid and local content where local people should be hired as casual laborers so as to provide employment for the locals and request to the government from local leaders to construct health facilities and roads.
Robert Benon Mugabi, the LCV Rakai District requested the government to construct roads, hospitals in Rakai district.
“Since the oil will be passing in Rakai, we request that schools, hospitals and roads be constructed such that people from Rakai can benefit from the oil project,” said Mr. Mugabi.
More to the compensation issue, Ali Ssekatawa Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs Petroleum Authority of Uganda, addressed the public saying that the compensation was going to be done though it is a process and takes time.
“The affected people will be compensated but first, we had to conduct public hearings so as to determine how much people are affected and evaluate the rates of compensation,” said Mr. Ssekatawa.
Regarding the local content, Petroleum Authority of Uganda has been asked to hire workers from the community to work as casual laborers such that people can gain from the project.
“The project should hire our people especially those that have the skill and are able to do casual work like digging tunnels,” said Mr. Mugabe the LCV of Rakai.
After today’s public hearing which is the last, Petroleum Authority of Uganda together with other stakeholders, is going to make resolutions for the issues raised such as compensation and finally, go ahead with the construction project once everything is in place.
“Now that this step is done, what is remaining is the Final Investment Decision (FID) which is the final decision to bring the money and start the construction,” said Hon. Lokeris Peter Minister of State and Mineral Development.
Tanzania High Commissioner Ambassador Dr. Aziz Ponary Mlima also expressed that since Tanzania which will be hosting 1,147km of the pipeline has already finished it’s public hearings, it is ready for the construction project.
The Project Director EACOP Maxim Marchenko also confirmed that if everything is ready, TOTAL is also ready.
“Once the legal frame is complete, we are ready to start,” said Mr. Marchenko.
In a nutshell, therefore, since the public hearings have been conducted, the EACOP project can finally get an operating license from National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and once a Final Investment Decision is made and legal framework if completed, the crude oil project can begin