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EACOP affected districts want more jobs for local people

Local people from districts that will be traversed by the East African Crude Oil Export Pipeline (EACOP) project want government and oil companies to grant special treatment in the oil pipeline related jobs. Government and joint venture partners – Total E&P Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Ltd and Tullow Oil Uganda are currently engaged in land acquisition processes for the pipeline.

“At the beginning of the project, we were told that our local people with the requisite qualifications, would be given jobs. But now, even Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) and even drivers are from other districts,” George William Katokoozi, the Chairman, Sembabule District Land Board (DLB) recently told Oil in Uganda. He explained that excluding pipeline host communities from oil jobs is setting a bad precedent and could be the beginning of the “oil curse”. “We have some of our sons and daughters who are qualified. We have drivers from Sembabule, why can they not be given jobs in New Plan, ICS and other companies working on the EACOP. Why are our local people being discriminated against?” Katokoozi angrily wondered.

The 1,445 kilometre heated pipeline will traverse the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera & Rakai on the Ugandan side. These districts will host a series of infrastructure projects such as construction camps, pump and heating stations among others. Speaking at Mbirizi Catholic Social Centre in Lwengo district, Ssensalire Christopher, Lwengo district Vice Chairman concurred with Katokoozi. Ssensalire wants EACOP related companies to put a certain percentage of qualified local persons they should employ from EACOP affected districts. “One of the ways through which our local people can benefit from the oil and gas sector is local employment. So, our people are side-lined, as leaders we get concerned,” Ssensalire said.

FEARS

Local leaders also expressed fears that some of the irregularities experienced in land acquisition for the proposed oil refinery could be repeated in land acquisition for the pipeline. “We have heard complaints of delays in compensation from people in Hoima [people affected by the oil refinery]. We need an assurance that such delays will not be repeated in the EACOP affected districts. It is a fear calling for serious action and is expressed by the project affected persons,” Ssensalire said.  He asked government to consider training project affected persons (PAPs) on financial literacy before compensation to ensure that PAPs do not put compensation money to waste.

“There are some things they may not do to save, so leaders should be vigilant.  He challenged leaders in Rakai and Kyotera to understand the value of compensation rates and fight to get fair rates. They should mind about their people. Leaders should work for the interest of their people,” he explained.

Ssenyonjo Stephen, Chairperson Local Council III of Lwebitakuli Sub-county, Sembabule district asked district leaders where the oil pipeline passes to press government to have meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for better delivery of benefits to the local populations.

By: Edward Ssekika,
Edited by Muhumuza Didas