Eala criticises oil pipeline opponents
Kigali. The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has strongly castigated opponents of the Hoima-Tanga crude oil pipeline.
The civil society groups, in particular, came under fire for agitating against the project expected to bring much goodies to the region.
Lawmakers from Tanzania and Uganda led to fray, playing down claims of environmental hazards the pipeline 1,443 km would allegedly pose.
“Has the project passed the environmental test? The answer is yes. Have we planned mitigation measures put in place just in case? The answer is yes.
“Then what is the fuss all about?”, asked George Odongo from Uganda, saying the project could not have been approved without the requisite environmental tests.
The European Union and politics of crude oil in East Africa
He wondered as to why the project opponents based in Europe have raised the pollution fears whereas the EA region emitted a mere fraction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) globally.
The pollution claims, he opined, were baseless in that the entire Europe and other industrialized countries generated millions of tonnes of GHGs daily.
“Or this could be a ploy to make use continue to be poor,” he told the House which unanimously expressed dismay at the critics of the pipeline.
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The $4 billion Hoima-Tanga pipeline project would yield about 250,000 barrels of crude oil a day to be sold in the markets within the region and abroad.
According to Mr Odongo, the project would also generate 1,000 km of paved roads and substantial revenues “to plant trees and fight poverty”.
He asserted that the CSO groups based in Europe and their collaborators in the region have “ no moral authority” to oppose construction of the pipeline. Habid Mohamed Mnyaa (Tanzania) expressed his dismay on why some activists linked the planned pipeline and associated structures under the project with human rights violations.
“What actually is the real argument? Is the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) really going to grab farming and grazing land from the communities?, he asked. Abdullah Makame (Tanzania) argued that the human rights violation claims were “unacceptable” because 70 percent of people whose land would be taken by the project have already been compensated. He said oil was an abundant resource that East Africa was endowed with and that time has come to exploit it to improve “our regional economies.” Ms Suzan Nakauki and Paul Musamali (both from Uganda) said activists fighting the project from abroad owed the East African people an apology.
“We should also identify their local collaborators and crush them”, they said, noting that exploitation of any petroleum product “must have a carbon footprint.”
Ms Mary Mugyenyi (Uganda) said her country and Tanzania were united against the critics of EACOP and would go ahead with its implementation.
The project has been subjected to mandatory environmental impact assessment (EIA). “Should we abandon it and continue to be beggars?” she asked.
The heated debate in the House following a Motion on EACOP tabled in the Assembly by the Ugandan MP James Kakooza and seconded by Mr. Makame from Tanzania. The Ugandan MP rubbished fears of GHG emission from the project, noting that Africa generated only 1.5 percent of carbon gases compared to 25 percent by the European Union.
Tanzania and Uganda emitted only 0.2 and 0.1 percent metric tonnes of GHG emissions per capita respectively “far behind every single member of the EU”.
Eala’s hard stance on the project followed a Joint Resolution of the European Parliament in September this year, alleging human rights violation should EACOP execution go ahead. According to the Motion adopted by the House late on Thursday, a total of 13,161 people affected by the project in both countries have been identified.
“The compensation process is still ongoing,” Mr Kazooza said, adding that out of 13,161 Project Affected Persons (PAPs), 9,513 were in Tanzania and 3,638 in Uganda.
The commitment is that EACOP will not access land until compensation has been paid out followed by livelihood restoration programmes to eligible PAPs.