There have been various protests among the oil pipeline Project Affected persons-PAPs in Rakai, Kyotera, Lwengo and Sembabule districts over the delayed compensation process and the poor reparation rates. Total Uganda sub-contracted New Plan Limited to do the valuation of the affected property on the pipeline route and present the value for each item based on the district compensation rates.
However, Total presented general compensation figures for all items. This prompted the PAPS and Civil Society Organisations to demand a detailed breakdown of the rates per item. According to the CSOs and experts in oil accountability, there is a hidden motive in presenting the block figures without a clear breakdown.
John Mwebe, the program Coordinator-International Accountability Project (AIP), says Total intended to defraud the affected persons by keeping them in the dark. He explains that the compensation process is not transparent as it was meant to be yet the PAPS who raise their voices are intimidated or arrested.
He says that there is no certainty as to whether the figures presented are based on the compensation lists or just presented by the company without detailing the amount of land and the property on it. Mwebe noted that the block figures lead to questions about how people’s land in different localities is being valued.
He adds that the lack of transparency means that Total is hiding something. According to Mwebe, the PAPs are not able to thoroughly double-check the compensation offer and claim for fair payment. He adds that in their research, they established that there are disparities in the amount they are told and the amount of money in the reports.
According to Yisito Muddu Kayinga, the Executive Director- Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), people’s properties such as land and buildings were undervalued while several were not considered for compensation. He says they raised complaints about the general figure during the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) disclosure but Total declined to provide details.
He says that the poor compensation rates and failure to explain what each item costs are some of the concerns, which the six French and Uganda Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) namely Friends of the Earth France, Survie, AFIEGO, CRED, NAPE and NAVODA took to the French Supreme Court against Total.
Amid the concerns, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) maintains that it has no hand in determining the compensation rates. According to Seth Muhumuza, the Head of Stakeholder Management-PAU, it is the Chief Government Valuer, who is responsible for approving the compensation rates.
Following a petition about the Block Figures in November, CSOs and the PAPs led by COTFONE held a feedback meeting with the Senior Management of Total Energies E&P (U) B.V led by Martin Tiffen and agreed that the breakdown of the figures will be presented during the Compensation Agreement Signing, which is will take place at an opportune time