Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have told off their European Union counterparts and urged Uganda to implement East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).
The project, to be undertaken by French oil major Total Energies, has been criticised by the European Union parliament over alleged violation of environmental and human rights principles, forcing the involved firms to publicly defend it.
The European Union passed a resolution calling for the EU and the international community to exert maximum pressure on Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities, as well as the project promoters and stakeholders, to protect the environment and put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert. But this week, EALA legislators said the project must go on, being a project of two sovereign states.
“We need to have a stronger say, maybe continentally, to work in co-ordination. When you talk about European parliament, it is as if we owe our lives to them. I don’t think we do,” said Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of East African Community Affairs Manasseh Nshuti during an EALA sitting in Kigali this week.
“What this criticism of the pipeline essentially means is that we should maintain the status quo, so that those who are already producing continue to produce and the rest of us who are poor but have the resources continue to remain poor,” said George Odongo, EALA member from South Sudan.
Uganda and Tanzania are nevertheless implementing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project, with a capital investment of $4 billion, the largest inward investments by the two countries. The pipeline is 1,443km and runs from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga port in northern coast of Tanzania.
The pipeline will be a buried thermally insulated 24-inch pipeline along with six pumping stations (two in Uganda and four in Tanzania) ending at Tanga where the crude oil will be loaded onto tankers to be sold onwards to world markets.
Focus on EU
“The EU parliament is over-legislating. What they should do is go back to EU and focus on the issue that affect the people of the European Union...,” Said Suzan Nakuwuki, EALA member from Uganda.
The European parliament adopted on September 14, 2022 a Joint Motion for a Resolution alleging violations of human rights in Uganda and Tanzania, major environments and climate threats linked to the execution of the EACOP project.
The EU parliament indicated serious adverse impacts for communities within the oil extraction and pipeline areas calling upon the governments of Uganda, Tanzania, the EACOP project promoters and stakeholders to put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert.
“We are always trying to find means to be independent not dependent. In many accounts we see that we rely on donor funding. Carbon dioxide today in this modern world is used in many things including processing fertilisers,” said Habib Mnyaa EALA member from Tanzania.