By Sandra Atusinguza
The global diversifying COVID 19 pandemic impacts have not spared the oil and gas projects affected communities. In East Africa, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project has had its share of the COVID-19 pandemic negative impacts.
In Uganda, Lwengo district is one of the EACOP project-affected villages across the 11 districts with over 700 Project Affected Persons (PAPs) whom government acquired there land to pave way for the construction of the oil export pipeline.
Since 2018, to date, these persons have never been compensated and a cut- off date was set for their land and property.
The COVID 19 impacts have neither spared the host communities nor the surrounding villages, communities are very frustrated with the EACOP oil and gas project; this could be an opportunity for them to utilize the compensation or farm their land during the lockdown, as a result, some people have been forced to go back to the already government acquired land for agriculture.
The EACOP communities decry a big communication gap between oil and gas companies, their sub-contractors New Plan and ICS and the affected communities on updates of compensation and grievances handling.
The phone numbers that were provided to the communities were switched off three months ago to date. The district structures and resettlement committees that were established are now acting ceremonial leaders on matters oil and gas as they are of no help to their communities.
The project affected families are calling upon government through the line ministry, PAU and oil and gas companies to immediately compensate them and also provide them with food relief during the ongoing lock down.
The project affected people are a special group of venerable people who have no choice on ether to use the land or not because of the delayed compensation and effects of the cut- of date.
These people, such as Ssegunja Ivan from Lwengo, believe that just as many companies have been donating food to the public oil companies should give out food to the oil projects affected persons awaiting compensation.
Sandra Atusinguza works as AFIEGO field coordinator
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