‘Who will save us?’ local communities in anguish over French court ruling on EACOP

Communities and individuals in the areas that will be affected by the EACOP have reacted angrily to a French court ruling that let TotalEnergies off the hook regarding its environmentally destructive activities in Uganda and Tanzania.

The case had been filed by civil society organizations which included: Friends of the Earth France, Survie, AFIEGO, CRED, NAPE/Friends of the Earth Uganda and NAVODA and had raged in court for years.

Hope Arinaitwe, a mother of eight, who was displaced by the project in Hoima said the ruling will sink her deeper into poverty.

“When we were told that our land was going to be taken, Total stopped us from using our land to grow perennial crops. Total promised to give us food as part of our livelihood restoration but since 2019, I have not received any food,” she said in the aftermath of the ruling.

Rev Fred Musimenta said they had placed their only hope for justice in the courts. Now they have no one to save them.

John Tundulu who was forcefully displaced for the Tilenga project said they had suffered a lot.

“Total offered us low compensation which we rejected. Our land is our life and courts must help us to defend it,” he said.

Janepher Baitwamasa from the Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA) an NGO operating in the Albertine region, said the oil project had negatively affected the environment, making access to clean water difficult.

“Today women have to walk long distances to access firewood and water. This is gendered injustice,” Museveni said.

Dickens Kamugisha of the African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) said he remained hopeful that justice will one day be delivered.

“Everyone everywhere must be doing everything to protect communities and environment in Uganda and Tanzania from oil threats. On our part we remain committed to seeking justice from courts,” he said.