TANZANIA and Uganda have maintained their stand on continuing to execute the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) despite resolutions by the European Union (EU) Parliament that seeks to block the project.
The EU parliament had on Thursday adopted a resolution seeking to force Uganda, Tanzania and the Total Energies SE to delay the project, terming it as a setback to socioeconomic progress of both Tanzania and Uganda.
They also called on the governments of Uganda and Tanzania to initiate concrete measures to ensure that authorities, security forces and policies respect and comply with human rights standards.
The position by the two countries has been seconded by stakeholders who however expressed dissatisfaction with the motion by EU Parliament.
They alerted that if implemented, the decision by EU parliament will halt economic prosperity of the two East African countries.
The chairman of Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers (ATOGS), Abdulsamad Abdulrahim said the motion was unfortunate and that the EU legislative body was misinformed before landing into such decisions.
“We believe that EU has been misinformed and the resolution is based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key facts on environment and human rights protection,” he said.
He said the project also passed through all crucial stages, including an extensive Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that was conducted by the Western companies, by International Finance Corporation (IFC) standards and international best practices, as well as numbers of Biodiversity and Biological baseline surveys.
“The EU parliament suggests that the project should wait for one year. This shouldn’t be accepted at all, since it brings a major setback to our economies given the ongoing global crisis that causes inflation,” he noted.
Mr Abdulrahim considers the move as an economic war that aims to slow down development that the two East African countries are up for upon completion of the project.
“Delaying the project will increase the economic crisis, our countries are still struggling to improve people’s living standard in this time when the world is undergoing a major energy crisis,” he told this paper.
This motion is clearly against the UN Charter that provides for Uganda and Tanzanians right to self-determination and sovereignty over its natural resources.
“Tanzania and Uganda are developing countries, and sovereign states that have their unique development needs and priorities,” he insisted.
Dr Samuel Gwamaka, the Director General of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), stated that the implementation of this project complied with all international standards set by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for all development investment projects in order to receive funding from the World Bank.
The majority of the effects are minor, such as the excavation of the trench where the pipeline will descend two to three meters, allowing outsiders to go about their daily business. Citizens have also been paid compensation, and some have received better new homes.
“Consequently, we are unable to comprehend the implications of what the EU Parliament is stating,” he said.
For her part, the Executive Director of Legal and Human Rights Centre, Anna Henga supported the project, saying it is a good one when it comes to economic rise of the two countries.
“Only the governments of Tanzania and Uganda should adhere to human rights standards in implementation of the same,” she said.
On their quick rejoinder, the two countries of Tanzania and Uganda insisted that there was no violation of human rights and that all the required procedures were followed before kickoff of the project.
Tanzanian’s Minister for Energy, January Makamba said the government has been observing all the international standards on implementing various projects, including the EACOP from Hoima (Uganda) to Chongoleani, Tanga in Tanzania.
The Minister was of the view that on implementing the EACOP, neither human rights nor socioeconomic progress have been violated by the project.
“I have made a follow-up on the resolutions of the EU Parliament on the violation of human rights and environmental impacts, they have issued advice on the effects of the project, but for sure, Tanzania has adhered to all the procedures to ensure all the rights are protected accordingly,” said the minister.
He said to ensure effective observation of human rights, the government paid compensation to all households who were supposed to vacate their premises to pave way for the project and that there was no use of force during the exercise as stated in the EU resolution.
On implementing the project, the government through Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) set aside a budget of 25bn/- for compensating those who were to vacate their premises in favour of the project.
“We have paid compensation to those who deserved it, no one was forced to leave their premises or arrested. Also, the overall pipeline route has been designed to minimise environmental and social impacts.
Moreover, by March this year, the government had paid 80 million US dollars (equivalent to 186bn/-), out of the 308 million US dollars (around 716.7bn/-) to be paid by Tanzania as its contribution to the project.
Moreover, on his quick rejoinder, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni assured the commitment of executing the project as per the initial plans.
“I want to assure you that the project shall proceed as stipulated in the contract we have with TotalEnergies and CNOOC. Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, the people of Uganda should not worry,” posted President Museveni on his tweeter account@ KagutaMuseveni.
Adding; “We should remember that Total Energies convinced me about the pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with”.
Out of the 1,443kms of the project, 296km are within Uganda and 1,147km within Tanzania. The pipeline will pass through eight regions of Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Tabora, Singida, Dodoma, Manyara and Tanga covering 24 districts, 134 wards and 224 villages.