Justice Ogoola warns government against excluding communities during the construction of the oil pipeline

Retired former principle judge of the High Court, Justice James Ogoola

Retired former principle judge of the High Court, Justice James Ogoola, has warned  government against excluding communities in the oil region during the implementation of the East Africa Crude oil project.

“In this day and age, we need not to repeat past mistakes. We must beget a humane and balanced transformation. Any development that excludes people can only lead to inequality, poverty and injustice,” says Ogoola.

Ogoola was yesterday speaking during the East Africa Crude Oil multi sector stakeholder meeting in Kampala. The event organized by Oxfam Uganda together with other partners was held under the theme: “Setting An Agenda for Citizen Participation”.

He said compensation of land is for the value of land now but not for the future benefit. Land he said is the insurance for the future of the affected communities where the pipeline is to be constructed.

Ogoola also said that court processes on land issues should be expedited at the level of handling a presidential Election Petition.

According to experts, the pipeline will run 296km in Uganda and the rest (80%) in Tanzania.

Lands Minister, Betty Amongi

Lands Minister, Betty Amongi, who also made a presentation, revealed that the Oil pipeline corridor from Tanzania boarder into Uganda has already been defined but that such information cannot be disclosed until the area has been gazetted by government.

“There after land owners will be notified if their land falls in the defined pipeline corridor under compulsory land acquisition. Signed guidelines for compensation includes 30% of disturbance allowance plus interest plus land value. If ministry of energy delays payment, an additional surcharge of 15% per annum will be factored in,” Amongi stated.

Officials in the Energy Ministry say developers need 30 metres for the pipeline and government requires 133 metres for the pipeline construction.

Chima William, a Nigerian representative said the discussions on the oil industry for the region is a healthy one that will avoid mistakes that other oil producing countries in Africa have gone through:   “I don’t want to see Uganda and Tanzania running into the same crisis Nigeria is facing”.

Chima mentioned that Shell struck oil in Ogoni Nigeria in 1958. He said that today the company generates 50 billion from extracted oil but farmers and fishermen instead receive destroyed land and fish.

Total the main company in the pipeline construction said the East African oil pipeline will comply with the national laws, adding that since the pipeline route is proposed, and in case of challenges that can’t be addressed, they will re-route.

Participants at the meeting

The meeting attracted experts in the oil industry and officials of civil society organisations in the East African region, West Africa and beyond.

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