Buliisa: Total E&P , Atacama Consulting and Bagungu tribe are Linked to Ongoing Violation of Human rights and Environmental Degradation in North of Albertine rift, Buliisa district
The discovery of oil and gas along Albertine graben came with a smile on the face of many locals along this rift in anticipation of jobs for the youth, better social services provision among others but to their dismay, they have come to realize that it is a curse in their lives in regards to what they are going through apparently.
In a village called Kasinyi in Ngwedo sub county where the central processing units of Total E&p is located, people have been evicted forcefully from their land by the state apparatus without any compensation satisfying their need, the community have rejected the 3.5 million Ugandan Shillings compensation for an acre of land with the reason that the rate at which they are being compensated is less than the values of land and that 3.5 million Ugandan shillings cannot buy an acre of land anywhere the government intend to relocate them to. People who were forcefully evicted some of them have not yet received their compensation up-to-date. Indigenous community of Kasinyi village were intimidated and threatened on gun points by security apparatus led by the Buliisa district RDC. People were made to sign for the documents they did not consent. Those who refused to sign the compensation have not yet received even single coin from the government. Meanwhile Total E&P in collaboration with Atacama Consulting have continued with their criminal enterprises project dubbed Tilenga project , the resettlement action plan phase two without consulting the project affected persons.
“I have refused the money which this people wanted to pay me for my 10 acres of land in kasinyi, they have threatened me but I didn’t sign for 3.5m per acre but now I see soldiers there and they are continuing with their project without even getting back to me, I now do not know whether they will pay me, am even worried.” One of the affected people narrating to the Albertine Watch .
The Tilenga project is being taken by Atacama consultancy firm under the supervision of total E&P, a company which belong to the daughter of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The local policy contents requires that Oil companies operating in the Albertine region should employ the locals for any project being implemented in the region .However , Atacama Consulting and Total E&P have neglected this requirement. The local employees of Atacama and Total are subjected to rights violation .The local laborers are undermined, discriminated , marginalized and are looked at as if vulnerable people who are seeking for favour from Total and Atacama Consulting. Every time and again local recruits are threatened with loss of jobs any time in case they complain about the mistreatment and abuse they are subjected to by Total E&P as well as Atacama Consulting .In most cases local workers employed by the Atacama and Total E&P are denied access the sensitive information and the wrong things the companies are doing. There are a lot of injustices ranging from discrimination to denying access to the camps to some section of tribes employed in the Tilenga project on a fear that these individuals will leak information to the media and human rights organization responsible for the protection of environment and also labour unions. Local labours are less paid and they are the last people to receive their payment and remuneration after some good period of time.
Atacama Consulting is the firm that belong to the daughter of president Yoweri Kagutra Museveni .The Company has worst records and it’s best known for the mistreatment of local labourers. The Albertine Watch has investigated Atacama over period of times and found out that the company is implicated in signing of feck contracts with Total E&P to enable illegal operation in the North of the Albertine rift and within Murchison Fall National Park. The company does not follow terms of contract in the contract terms of reference. On several occasion, the Atacama management have failed to bring the contract agreements and terms of reference back to the employees in fear of legal process in case workers drag them to court for mistreatment and violation of their rights.
“ I have worked with Atacama for the last six months as the Community Liason Officer but since then I have not seen the contract which I signed and my payment is not according to what the contract stipulates.” One of the community liaison officers of Atacama explained to the Albertine Watch.
Tilenga is the project name for the development of petroleum production facilities in Contract Area 1 and the northern part of the License Area 2 located in Buliisa and Nwoya Districts in Uganda.The Tilenga project is intended to require land for the development of Oil facilities in Buliisa District. The project comprises of six oil fields – Jobi-Rii, Ngiri, Gunya, Kasamene-Warindi, Nsoga and Kigogole, which are being developed together through a single Central Processing Facility (CPF) with an estimated production capacity of 200,000 barrels per day of oil together with associated gas, produced water, injection water and associated utilities and camps. It’s anticipated that at least a total of about 400 wells will be drilled from over 30 well pads. A network of interfiled pipelines will collect the oil production from each well pad and transport it to the CPF located within the Industrial Area planned in Ngwedo subcounty, Buliisa District. The CPF will also be connected to a water abstraction plant on the shores of Lake Albert. According the engineering plan, a 24-inch feeder pipeline will transport the oil from the CPF to the manifold at Kabaale in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District. From Kabaale, the planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will export the crude oil via a 24-inch pipeline over about 1,450 kilometres up to Tanga on the Tanzanian coast. The EACOP system will include; associated pumping stations, electrical heating systems and an oil export terminal located at the Chongeleani peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania. Apparently, the project is in the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) stage, where all necessary technical definition and cost and schedule estimates are being developed to enable the Joint Ventures Partners to make a recommendation for a Final Investment Decision expected by the end of 2018, and lead to the project execution and construction phase for the upstream facilities required to produce Uganda’s Oil targeted for end 2020.
It’s on record that the Resettlements Action Plan phase 2 is anticipated to affect over 5000 people from Buliisa, Bugoigo, Somsio, Walukuba, Butiaba, Waaki , Runga , Bukunyu, among others up to Buseruka. Locals are worried that they are likely to be displaced and forcefully evicted from their lands they have had since times in memorial. Equally people are worried of where they will be relocated to, as well as how much they will be compensated in regards to the lost they are going to undergo.
Half of Murchison Falls National Park which is the biggest Biodiversity hotspot in Uganda will be destroyed as a result of Oil drilling and exploration activities. Animals and plants habitats will be destroyed as well.
Meanwhile , the people of Buliisa district especially the Bagungu tribe instead of uniting together with other tribes in the Albertine rift to fight against the environmental degradation and human rights violation, land grabbings and force eviction escalated by the French company Total E&P, instead they are the one who are working with multinational company to wage attack against the local people in the district.Bagungu have continued to hold an attitude that they are the only special tribe proud of nothing, and living in a very sorry state of poverty. The Bagungu youth do not want to associate themselves with other youth from Bunyoro, Alur, Lugbara, and Baganda among others with notion that these youths or tribes have migrated to Buliisa to benefit from the lucrative Oil discovered in Buliisa. Bagungu are the people without any developmental idea in their own land , what they know mostly is drinking alcohol. When other tribes tries to do anything developmental , they will make sure kill that person even when it’s their own tribe mate doing development, they will fight to kill him.
The Government of the Republic of Uganda created the Joint Venture Partners comprising of Three major exploration companies including Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited (TUOP), Total E&P Uganda B.V. (TEP Uganda) and CNOOC Uganda Limited (CNOOC) .These have been issued oil production licences from the Government of Uganda and are apparently entering the initial stages of petroleum development of production licence areas in the Lake Albert.While this is a good development, there are numbers of critical questions being raised as to whether the Oil and gas development project in Buliisa, Nwoya and Hoima will benefit the local indigenous community who live off the proposed licensed petroleum fields in Buliisa and Nwoya Districts, within the Albertine rift of Uganda. As the Oil project graduate into full development and production phase for the production of oil and gas, local are worried that this would cause insecurity and tribal conflicts between different tribes found in the Oil producing districts of Buliisa, Hoima and Nwoya among others.
Atacama Consulting Limited a company owned by President Museveni daughter was contracted by the major Oil companies comprising of Total and Tullow Oil Uganda to prepare a number of Resettlement Action Plans in order to ease need for land acquisition for temporary and permanent occupation. This will also help to determine the actions needed to acquire lands and relocate the people affected by the project priority areas consisting of an industrial park and major access road that will be constructed in Kasinyi village, Ngwedu Sub County in Buliisa district.
Although Total boast of taking measures to mitigate climate change and her involvement in biodiversity conservation and protection to ensure compliance , it should be noted that the activities of Total E&P in Buliisa district and north of Albertine rift at large will have very much negative impacts on the life support system of the indigenous community in the Albertine region. Investigation of Total activities in the north of Albertine rift indicates that Total lack important agenda in addressing environmental concerns and fundamental basic Human rights of the community affected by the Oil project. The activities of Total E&P possess big threats to the Albertine incredible biodiversity and life support systems of indigenous people in the Albertine rift. There is lack of awareness of environmental protection and human rights among others. Total instead of creating awareness and sensitizing the entire community on the significance of biodiversity to the life support system, Total has instead continued to sponsor propagandists including some social media bloggers to write positive information about Total and its operation in the region. Despite of Total compliance with environmental protection law and the commitment to avoid sensitive areas at the local level, the company has continued to operate in Murchison Falls National Park. One of Total operation block is located inside the Murchison Falls National Park .The operation of Total in Murchison Falls National Park has resulted into negative impact on wild life of the area with many animals running away from the Park .It has also resulted into the illegal poaching being illegally done by the Total and private security employed to guard their camps inside the Park. Total has failed to implement actions that can help to mitigate adverse impacts of the drilling on environment and life support systems.