Uganda-Tanzania pipeline runs into legal challenges

Tuesday November 24 2020
Oil pipeline.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stand in front the project board for the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Mutukula, Uganda, on November 9, 2017. Four NGOs have moved to court to block the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. PHOTO | AFP


Four non-governmental organisations have moved to the East African Court of Justice to block the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) by Uganda and Tanzania.

The four — the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights Ltd and the Africa Institute for Energy Governance both based in Kampala; the Nairobi-based Natural Justice-Kenya and the Center for Strategic Litigation Ltd based in Zanzibar — want the construction of the pipeline stopped until the matter is heard and determined.

In the case filed on November 6 through the Kampala based M/S Semuyaba, Iga & Company Advocates together with Dalumba Advocates, the applicants are seeking orders against both Uganda and Tanzania ensures that, “prior to any similar project, the following are conducted; climate change impact assessment; Human rights impact assessment; and meaningful, effective and transparent public consultations ensuring robust community and broad public participation.”

The four NGOs claim that the EACOP project, announced a month ago by Uganda’s President’s Yoweri Museveni and his Tanzania’s counterpart John Magufuli is yet to conduct an environmental and social impact assessment as required by both the EAC Treaty and other international laws.

Protected areas

They claim it contravenes the EAC Treaty and protocols that determine the undertaking of such a project.


The NGOs are now seeking a permanent injunction against Uganda, Tanzania and the EAC, whom they have sued, from constructing the pipeline through protected areas, among other orders.

The pipeline will transport crude oil from Hoima district in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanga, Tanzania.

“As a requirement by national as well as the EAC law, the project developer for the EACOP project in Uganda must be issued with a certificate of Approval of Environment and Social impact Assessment approved by the government of Uganda’s National Environmental Management Authority but the same was not issued prior to the signing of the agreements by both Uganda and Tanzania,” reads the application. The matter is yet to be assigned judges.