The African Union Watch this week joined calls to the European Parliament to revoke its September 14 resolution condemning the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project between Uganda and Tanzania.
In a September 20 statement, the independent pan-African NGO based in Banjul, in the Gambia, slammed the resolution based on perceived environmental and human rights concerns as being “self-serving” ploy and “an interference into African affairs”.
It also pointed out that a similar pipeline was built by Tanzania and Zambia “without experiencing any such challenges” in the early 1970s and is still operating.
“The European Parliament has no direct jurisdictional basis to discuss African implementation of economic development projects. It only uses international human rights instruments as a cover,” AUW chairperson Bahame Tom Nyanduga asserted in the statement.
He added that the only “leverage” that such institutions as the European Parliament had in Africa was based on diplomatic engagements and economic cooperation arrangements between the European Union itself and African states.
The statement dismissed the resolution’s claim that carbon emissions arising from fossil fuels used in the pipeline would have negative effects on climate change, noting that some European countries were also considering resumption of power generation using coal, another high pollutant, because of the consequences of war in Ukraine.
“Africa is not a major polluter compared to the developing world. What is happening in Europe gives African countries, faced with the challenges of development and poverty across the continent, all the more reason to turn to their own resources to address those challenges.”
The governments of Uganda and Tanzania have both dismissed claims in the resolution that the $3.4 billion EACOP project is being implemented in violation of environmental and human rights standards.
Tanzania’s ambassador to Belgium, Jestas Nyamanga, said this week that the embassy was preparing an official government statement clarifying various issues raised in the resolution over the project’s execution for presentation before the EU parliament.
“The resolution was based on misinformation about some of the facts. We will provide the parliamentary members with the correct facts,” said Mr Nyamanga, who is also accredited to the EU Commission.
His sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers (ATOGS), Abdulsamad Abdulrahim, who asserted that the EU Parliament members were deliberately misled about the project.
“This project has undergone an Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted on the basis of IFC standards and international best practices and also backed by several basic biodiversity studies,” Mr Abdulrahim said.
According to Tanzania's Minister for Energy January Makamba, the EACOP project is being handled in line with all international laws and regulations on environmental protection and respect for human rights, unlike the resolution's claims.
“The entire pipeline route within Tanzania has been designed to minimise the kind of environmental and social impacts that the EU Parliament expressed concerns about,” Mr Makamba stated.
For instance, compensation has already been paid to almost all the 331 households that were required to vacate to pave way for the project and no force was used during the resettlement operation as claimed in the EU resolution, the minister said.
“The fact is that Tanzania has every right to ensure that its people benefit from the country’s own resources just as is the case with developed countries and their people,” he asserted.
Tanzania has so far paid $80 million out of the $308 million that it is required to contribute to the project, out of which $10.77 million was allocated to cover compensation to affected citizens.
According to James Mataragio, director general of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) which is overseeing the project on the Tanzanian side, the compensation package also includes providing the affected people with new modern houses to move into.
“We are implementing this project with all transparency,” he said.
Preliminary construction work related to the project is also well underway, including the setting up of a thermo isolation plant in Tabora region to build covers for the underground pipes that has reached 60 percent, according to the TPDC boss.
The EACOP project covers 1,443 kilometres from Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanga along Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline with about 1,147km of the route passing through Tanzania and just 296km in Uganda.
The pipeline will pass through eight regions of Tanzania: Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Tabora, Singida, Dodoma, Manyara and Tanga.