Kampala, (UG): Lionel Zinsou, a former Prime Minister of Benin, is set to undertake the evaluation of the land compensation processes carried out by TotalEnergies Exploration and Production in Uganda and Tanzania.
The land acquisition paved the way for the development of the Tilenga oil and gas projects in Buliisa and Hoima Districts as well as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline from Hoima to Tanga in Tanzania.
While appointing Zinsou, also the founder of investment bank and consulting company, SouthBridge, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, described him as a recognized expert in African economic development.
His mission is to assess the land acquisition program carried out in the two countries, and the accompanying socio-economic development initiatives.
Land acquisition has been one of the points of interest to environmental and human rights activists opposed to the development of the oil and gas industry in Uganda.
They have been to courts of law in Uganda, the East African Community, and France, as well as petitioning institutions like the Vatican and rallying financial institutions against the projects, claiming that they violate environmental and human rights.
Several residents along the pipeline route in Uganda have been complaining about taking over their land before they received their due compensation, a claim that both TotalEnergies and the government dismiss as untrue.
The residents accuse the companies that were contracted to implement the compensation programs, of giving false information to the oil companies.
As the land acquisition process draws to a close, this mission will evaluate the land acquisition procedures implemented, the conditions for consultation, compensation, and relocation of the populations concerned, and the grievance handling mechanism.
It will also assess the actions taken by TotalEnergies EP Uganda and EACOP to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions for the people affected by these land acquisitions and suggest additional measures to be implemented if needed.
The mission will submit its report by April 2024, and its conclusions will be shared with the Tilenga and EACOP project partners: Cnooc Uganda, Uganda National Oils Company, and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.
The two projects involved the acquisition of 6,400 hectares, affecting 19,140 households and communities owning or using plots of land. It also includes the relocation of 775 primary residences.
According to TotalEnergies, so far, 98 per cent of the households concerned have signed compensation agreements, and 97 per cent received their compensation.
Of those households to be relocated, 98 per cent have taken possession of their new homes.
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