The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) has achieved full compensation for graves and commenced the relocation of shrines along its route in Uganda, as disclosed in the latest report from EACOP obtained by The Independent. Out of the initially identified 25 shrines in various districts, the EACOP has successfully relocated five according to the traditions and expectations of those associated with them.
Earlier this week, GreenFaith, an international anti-fossil campaign group, claimed that EACOP would disturb 2,000 graves along its route from Lake Albert in Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga. The report, titled “As if Nothing is Sacred – TotalEnergies’ Mistreatment of Graves along EACOP,” alleged disrespect for local customs in the relocation process.
EACOP, a joint venture involving TotalEnergies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), dismissed the GreenFaith report. In a statement, EACOP expressed regret for not being consulted before the report’s publication, asserting that the allegations were not subject to basic fact-checking.
Fred Bazaara, Community Relations Coordinator for EACOP, clarified the compensation process for shrine owners. Facilitation in cash is provided before relocation, intended to cover expenses associated with hiring a traditional healer or witch to perform the necessary rituals for relocation. Bazaara highlighted the unique nature of this facilitation, emphasizing the collaborative agreement between shrine owners and the project.
Survey data by New Plan revealed that Rakai district had the highest number of households with a total of six, hosting eleven shrines. Gomba and Kyankwanzi reported no shrines, while Lwengo had one family with two shrines pending relocation. The report did not disclose the total expenditure by EACOP for shrine compensation.
In response to allegations by GreenFaith, EACOP reiterated its commitment to adhering to World Bank project standards, particularly those related to cultural heritage. The company emphasized extensive consultations to determine cultural rites specific to each family, community, or tribe involved in the grave and shrine relocation process.
The Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa, addressing journalists in Kampala, dismissed opponents’ claims against EACOP as deliberate misinformation. Nankabirwa stressed the adherence of EACOP to international standards and its dedication to addressing cultural concerns related to the project.
The issue of graves and shrines in the EACOP project area draws parallels with events in the early 2000s when AES Nile Power and Bujagali Energy addressed cultural and spiritual aspects associated with the Bujagali Falls project. A Cultural Property Management Plan was implemented to accommodate consultations with affected communities and spiritual leaders.
According to EACOP documents, 91.6% or 601 out of 656 graves in the ten districts along the Ugandan side of the pipeline have been relocated as of November 2023. The company highlighted the identification and proper exhumation of human remains from the graves, with psychosocial support provided to Project Affected Persons throughout the relocation process.
GreenFaith, in its report, documented cases of lack of compensation for affected burial places and incomplete or poorly constructed relocation sites, which EACOP has refuted. The ongoing progress in shrine relocation and grave compensation marks a crucial phase in the EACOP project, emphasizing the importance of cultural heritage considerations in large-scale infrastructure initiatives.
Progress in Grave and Shrine Relocation
|District||Total Households||Total Shrines||Relocated Shrines||Pending Relocation|
Note: “-” indicates data not available or not applicable. This table provides an overview of the progress in shrine relocation across different districts.