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CSOs fear Magufuli’s death could impede EACOP project

East African Crude Oil Pipeline project

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Different Civil Society Organisations-CSOs in greater Masaka region have said the death of Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli will hamper the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project processes especially the compensation for the people affected by the oil pipeline.

Winfred Ngabiirwe, the Executive Director of Global Rights Alert (GRA) says that Magufiuli’s demise will delay the vital negotiations on the pipeline project. She says his absence may also change the dynamics because, he personally, was the biggest pusher for the project.

Ngabiirwe says that any delays in negotiations will affect the Final Investment Decision, and this will affect not only communities that have awaited compensation for several years but also demoralise the investors in the oil sector who have looked forward to the FID.

“However, we hope the technical teams on both sides (Uganda and Tanzania) will remain committed and unchanged for smooth conclusions,” she says.

According to Ngabiirwe, the delays in compensation also have negative consequences on the livelihoods of communities and has induced unhealthy speculations about the EACOP operator’s social license.

Magufuli’s death has sparked anxiety among different civil society groups, and the people affected by the oil pipeline project in Kyotera, Rakai, Lwengo, Sembabule and Gomba. Yisito Kayinga Muddu, the cordinator for Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), says the oil developments will delay since the two heads of state, Magufuli and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda were spearheading the pipeline project.

He adds that much as there are written agreements, the new Tanzanian leader Samia Suluhu might decide to make reviews or suspend certain engagements that may interfere with the process.

He points out the complicated position the two countries being parties to the Paris Protocol which is pushing for the renewable energies yet the oil pipeline is contrary to the treaty.

Matilda Ndagano, the GRA-community based monitor for the pipeline in Rakai, says that Magufuli was playing a pivotal role in the agreements between the oil companies and the two countries in the pipeline deal.

However, Christopher Kalemba, the Kakuuto County MP says that Magufuli’s death will not impede the processes as the CSOs allege, adding that everything will move according to plan. He explains that several agreements have already been signed and the new Tanzanian leader will have to continue from where Magufuli stopped.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), has postponed the launch of the Tilenga Development Project and the EACOP project due to Magufuli’s death. The launch was planned to take place on March 22, 2020, but it was deferred to April.

According to PAU, Magufuli was a strong foundation for the EACOP with key milestones including the signing of the inter-governmental agreements in 2017 and the initialing of the Tanzania Host Government Agreement (HGA) in 2020.

The CSOs have said that the suspension of the launch is a clear indication of how Magufuli’s death will interfere with the whole EACOP process.

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