Some of the PAPs in an engagement meeting about letters of administration
More than 30 people affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Rakai, Lwengo, Sembabule and Kakumiro districts have passed on before getting their compensation.
According to Community-Based Monitors from Global Rights Alert (GRA) and local leaders in the respective districts, the matter came up in the different community engagements on how the affected families can process the Letters Of Administration to claim compensation of the deceased Project Affected Persons (PAPs).
A Letter of Administration is simply a legal document issued by a competent Court, allowing the administrator to manage and distribute the deceased person’s estate or property.
According to Richard Orebi, the Programmes Associate -GRA, the issue of PAPs that have died and families that are often stranded in these districts have been documented in the community-based monitors’ reports. He explains that since death is inevitable, it is important for the affected families to know what they can do in time before the compensation starts.
He noted that if the letters of administration are not processed in time several PAPs and their families may suffer in the long run after the compensation. Orebi adds that the delayed acquisition of the letters of administration may also delay the compensation process and the deceased PAPs’ families may be left out.
According to Matilda Ndagano, the GRA-Community Based Monitor (CBM) for the pipeline in Rakai, at least five families have processed the letters for the deceased PAPs while several families have secured short death certificates and in the process to acquire the letters.
Since the compensation has delayed for over two years, Ndagano says more PAPs may pass on in the process. She adds that the sensitization engagements will ease the compensation for the deceased persons’ estate.
Edward Kamya Kabuye, the Rakai Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO), says several PAPs have passed on and the majority of the survivors do not know the procedure of obtaining the letters. According to Kabuye, the community engagements were interfered with by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic whereby people are not allowed to converge in large numbers.
He explains that the letters are not only for purposes of compensation of the EACOP project but also in a number of cases including claiming for the deceased’s benefits, administration of the deceased’s property among others.
In Ssembabule, so far five families have acquired their letters, according to John Mary Bakalyamye, the GRA Community Based Monitor in the district. He explains that they are still helping more families which obtained short death certificates to process the letters ahead of the compensation.
According to Edith Namata, an advocate from Justice Centres Uganda, they joined the engagements to offer free legal services and ensure the PAPs can claim their rights over their property or assets that were affected by the pipeline.
However, the PAPs thanked the two organisations for their support in a bid to have their compensation.