Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 68 cultural and heritage sites will be affected by the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil pipeline, URN has learnt. The oil pipeline will run from Hoima district to the Uganda-Tanzania border.
The level of disturbance to the Heritage and cultural sites belonging to Buganda, Bunyoro and Koki Kingdoms will differ depending on their proximity from the center of the Crude Oil Pipeline track. The Environment and Social Impacts Assessment (ESIA) report singles out Kalyango Cultural Rock, Kyawagonya Cemetery in Lwengo district, Kanga or Rusheshe Cemetery in Kyotera district, Kituntu Cemetery and Katooke in Hoima district as some of the heritage sites that will be affected.
Others are Nkooko Hill in Kakumiro district, Kalyango, Kikaawe, Buzinga and Kabulasoke Clan graveyards in Mubende district. Also to be affected are Churches, Mosques and family shrines. The ESIA report says three of the heritage sites are lying inside the Crude Oil Pipeline, five in the periphery while 60 others are lying outside the edge of the Pipeline’s right of way.
Those inside the oil pipeline track are Kyawagonya Cemetery in Lwengo district and Kanga / Rusheshe Cemetery in Lwengo and Kyotera districts respectively. Noor Ssembatya, a councilor at Lwengo district, says Kywawagonya Cemetery belongs to Buganda Kingdom and is the final resting place of many of its subjects.
He is however uncertain about the caliber of people buried there. Some of the Heritage sites are used for marriage ceremonies, celebration of twins, expunging Satan, rituals and worship of spirits as well as serving as habitats for sacred trees and herbal medicines protected under the United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) instruments as well as Uganda’s legal regime.
The report adds that “sensitivity of some of the heritage sites are too high for their tangible cultural assets in them to be relocated to another area for the construction of the Crude Oil Pipeline”. According to ritual leaders in some of the sites interviewed in the report “Kakende, a heritage site belonging to Bunyoro Kingdom is used for celebration of twins born and expunging Satan”.
The ceremony involves slaughtering a sacrificial animal and fire is used with chanting. They say the site is used as frequently as needed and the cost is usually estimated to be up to 2.5 Million Shillings. The report which, invites communities and Kingdoms using the sites to tell the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on how the disturbance will affect them before the end of August this year, says some of the sites will suffer vibrations from heavy machinery being used in the Construction of the Oil Pipeline, noise and destruction of some of their assets.
“Access to some of the sites will be restricted when needed,” the report notes.
The sites have been grouped into three categories namely archaeological sites and areas of high archaeological potential and those with strong intangible elements such as cemeteries and royal tomb sites and regalia, religious places where worship associated with the main established religions is practiced in Churches or mosques.
The last Category involves sites with intangible component or traditional values with significance depending on geography, belief and ritual. “Such sites may be used for music making, dance, storytelling and other rituals. This category may also include rituals that are not linked to any particular site but to a particular group of people” the report states.
It recommends the relocation, avoidance of some of the sites or minimizing damage to them during the construction of the Crude Oil Pipeline and its operation. The 1,445 Kilometers long East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline will traverse 148 Villages in 24 sub counties in the nine districts of Hoima, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Rakai and Kyotera.
On each given day, the Pipeline that will need to be kept heated at 50 degrees centigrade for its Uganda’s waxy Crude Oil to keep flowing will transport 216,000 barrels of the crude oil to the Tanzanian port of Tanga for export.
Tullow Oil, Total Exploration and Production, China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), governments of Uganda and that of Tanzania are expected to take the final Investment decisions on the development of the Pipeline when NEMA approves its Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report.
NEMA will do this through the issuance of a certificate of no objection, a big nod for the first drop of oil to flow in 2023.