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Oil Pipeline: Masaka Security Committees, Land Board Officials Hold Crisis Meet Over Rights Violations

Security committees, Land Officers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from Rakai, Kyotera, Lwengo and Sembabule districts have held a crisis meeting following fresh protests among the people affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOPE) route.

The protests started on Wednesday last week following complaints of increasing human rights violations and anomalies by the PAPs in the valuation and compensation processes by Total-Uganda and New Plan Ltd.

The CSOs blamed security committees, land board officials and the local leaders for neglecting their roles, which has bred fresh problems. John Mwebe, the program Coordinator-International Accountability Project (AIP), says the district authorities have failed to monitor the operations of the two companies, some of which violate the rights of the PAPs.

However, the leader, said that the two companies often operate in secret without notifying the relevant departments to monitor their activities. Charles Mubiru, the Rakai Resident District Commissioner, says that there is a lot of information they miss as leaders and security teams due to poor coordination and lack of transparency.

He claims that they often get to know about certain things when the disgruntled project-affected persons raise up in protest. Another senior security official who asked not to be named for security reasons, says the officials from both companies have cautioned the PAPs against disclosing the compensation monies to anyone including the leaders and security officials.

He accused the companies of using their avenue to hide some anomalies in the display of the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and compensation rates. He noted that the purpose of the project is to benefit all stakeholders, saying there is need for fair compensation of the PAPs for loss of their property.

Mathias Kakooza, the Chairman-Rakai District Land board, says that he was invited once in all engagements of the pipeline especially during the discussions about the compensation rates for the district. He says that the companies often take advantage of the poorly facilitated District Land boards to visit the communities without being monitored.

Winnie Musisi, the Chairperson -Kyotera District Land board, says that the poor information flow has not only delayed the compensation process but also dampened the hope of the PAPs who think the leaders are too comfortable with their suffering.

She noted that some may think that they were bribed by the giant oil company to remain silent about their concerns. Jacqueline Seguya, the Lwengo Senior Lands Officer, says that the Total and New Plan field officers are working in isolation of the concerned district departments, which has caused more queries and protests among the PAPs.

Yisito Muddu Kayinga from the Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), attributes the confusion surrounding the oil pipeline project to poor information flow between the Total, New Plan field teams and district leaders.

Angella Nalwanga, the Masaka Pipeline Community Liaison Officer- Total Uganda, declined to comment on the matter. Similarly, Jeremiah Roeygens, the Total E&P EACOP Land & Social Affairs Manager, declined to comment on the queries in spite of the consistent attempts since Tuesday.

-URN

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