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Oil and gas: "We shall safeguard the environment" Says Rubondo

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the National Environment Management Authority, (NEMA) have been holding ESIA public hearing in Rakai, Kakumiro and Mubende districts.
27 Oct 2019 15:26
The Petroleum Authority Executive Director Ernest Rubondo has said that the Authority will ensure that environmental concerns are taken into consideration by the project developers.

He said the holding of public hearings in the three districts was part of that assurance.

He said that the purpose of these public hearings is to ensure that the people from the ten (10) districts where the pipeline will traverse can raise their concerns and contributions to the Environmental Social Impact Assessment report.  

“The public Hearings are an avenue where the public’s concerns are heard to ensure that they are addressed by the developer and relevant government entities. They are also part of the review process of the ESIA report to allow NEMA to make a fair and just decision on the report.”

Rubondo revealed that his authority in liaison with the National Environment Management Authority has so far held seven public hearings into the upcoming oil and gas projects as required by law. 

“This is an important milestone because we are now close to the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Phase, having also concluded the FEED study and Land surveys for the EACOP project.

The next stage is to ensure that we conclude the commercial frameworks for the project, a process which is now progressing,” he said.

NEMA Executive Director, Tom Okurut, the of assured the persons to be affected by the project that all feedback on the report will be reviewed to guide the final decision. 

“NEMA’s mission is to promote sustainable development with balanced social, economic and environmental well-being.” Said Okurut

Some of the persons to be affected by the project raised concerns about the delay by the government to compensate those that have to vacate their land to the project.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the National Environment Management Authority, (NEMA) have been holding ESIA public hearing in Rakai, Kakumiro and Mubende districts.

Mubende district Chairperson, Amooti Kibuuka Francis says developers of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) must consider stringent environment safety measures, before, during and after the construction of the pipeline.

Kibuka in his submission at the Environment Social Impact Assessment(ESIA) public hearing said the developer should take into consideration that most areas along the pipeline route are already water-stressed.

He said there must mitigation measures to ensure that the pipeline project does not lead to further water stress along with the districts where it is to be constructed.

Minister of State for Minerals, Peter Lokeris said valuation reports for the compensation is under review by the Chief Government Valuer (CGV).

PAU Director Legal and Corporate Affairs Ali Ssekatawa said the government is working closely with the Project Sponsors to finalise the legal and commercial framework for the project to pave way for the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) implementation process to commence.

Regarding disputes in valuation, the affected parties were advised to utilize the grievance handling mechanisms that have been put in place. 

Tanzania ‘s High Commissioner to Uganda, Aziz P. Mulima revealed that the process of land acquisition Tanzania had progressed significantly due to the land tenure system.

“Unlike in Uganda, for us, the land is under the custody of the President, and when we have such social and developmental projects, we compensate persons for the activities and developments on the land,” he said.

He revealed that Tanzania had concluded the ESIA study, which is under review by the respective Government entities.

Twebaze Paul, the representative of the Civil Society Coalition on oil and gas asked the developer to indicate the sources and volumes of water for use in hydro testing the pipeline in the report. He cautioned against the generalizations of climate data for all the districts.

In a related development, Maxim Marchenko, the CEO of Total TEAM B.V while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the public hearing in Rakai said the Developers are committed to the development of the project refuting claims that Total was grounding work in the region.

“What is happening right now is that we are working with the government on the required Legal Framework for the EACOP project. How long it will take, I may not know but I can assure you we are very committed to this project and work will go on,” noted Marchenko.

He also said that the environment safety considerations were made when choosing the EACOP route. “The pipeline was routed through less populated areas and areas with less biodiversity and will be closely monitored using updated technology.”

Positive impacts of the project were highlighted to include job creation.  The project along with the other development projects in Uganda is expected to stimulate other industries like agriculture and tourism.

The government of Uganda has planned for the participation of Ugandans in the sector through the promotion of national content. 

The district officials asked that priority be given to residents of the 10 districts of; Lwengo, Ssembabule, Kikuube, Hoima, Kyankwanzi, Gomba, Mubende, Kyotera, Kakumiro and Rakai for the jobs the project will create.

The Presiding Officer, Prof. Vincent Bagiire from the Makerere University Business School will submit a report within thirty (30) days to NEMA after the public hearings are held.

The details in the report will partly form the basis on which NEMA will decide on whether to award an ESIA certificate.