Land acquisition challenges for the Uganda-Tanzania oil pipeline project

Author: Frederic Musisi & Dominic Bukenya, Daily Monitor (Uganda), Published on: 28 May 2019

"Land acquisition hurdles await oil pipeline project"

...Uganda and Tanzania in May 2017 signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that binds the two governments on the pipeline project, with a specific clause (Article 3) detailing land rights framework, including fair, transparent, legally enforceable and clear terms in favour of the project, availability of land rights and integrity for the pipeline system, allowing uninhibited implementation of the project, and allowing lenders to take legal, valid and enforceable first priority security. The IGA, which has since been ratified by both governments, is yet to be fully translated into law and as a result, the issue of land rights remains a sticking issue. For example, the pipeline will cross Lwengo-Kyotera road and 15 other national roads, which land reserves belong to the Uganda National Roads Authority, but under the ongoing plans should belong to the yet-to-be formed pipeline company...

The RAP studies indicate that an estimated 10,500 people will be affected by the project in Tanzania. The pipeline construction start date remains unknown owing to a list of agreements yet to be finalised and related activities such as mobilisation of funds and announcing the final investment decision (FID), which will lead to the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase. According to the resettlement framework report for Tanzania, signed off last September, most land in the project area is held under customary tenure, with registered or titled land being limited mainly to urban centres (avoided by the pipeline route planning)...

Therein lies another problem of high expectations and hopes. In the greater-Masaka region, which comprises districts such as Lwengo, Kyotera and Rakai, some civil society actors are using the pipeline as a ticket to speak out on government’s long neglect of service delivery in the districts. In effect, they think a lot more should be done in the region on the basis that a multi-billion dollar infrastructure transits through their area, Mr Yisiti Kayinga, who heads a civil society group-COTFONE- told this newspaper in Lwengo. The resettlement action reports are currently under review to tie loose ends but when the actual land acquisition process starts, that is where the uphill task is; for it has never been in Uganda.

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