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Uganda: court rejects family claims related to TotalEnergies megaproject

Uganda: court rejects family claims related to TotalEnergies megaproject
The logo of French energy conglomerate TotalEnergies is seen at a gas station in Lille,   -  
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Michel Spingler/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved


A court in Uganda on Friday dismissed claims by dozens of families who felt they had been wronged when they were compensated for the use of land used to develop a TotalEnergies oil megaproject, an activist and a plaintiff said.

The court in Hoima, a town near oil fields, ruled against 42 families claiming inadequate compensation, according to an activist from the Tasha Africa Research Institute, which is covering the villagers' legal costs.

"The ruling was in favor of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development," Abdul Musinguzi told AFP. "No further compensation is planned", he added.

One of the plaintiffs, Jealousy Mugisa Mulimba, described the ruling as an "ambush". "We were given one day to prepare the case after receiving the summons on December 4," he said. "These are mostly poor, illiterate people. Only 12 people went to court today because the others couldn't afford the transport."

This vast project by the French group, which was the subject of a $10 billion investment agreement with Uganda, Tanzania, and the Chinese company CNOOC, calls for the drilling of 419 wells in western Uganda and the construction of a 1,443 km pipeline to link them to the Tanzanian coast.

It is presented by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as an economic boon for his landlocked country, where many inhabitants live in poverty. However, it is strongly opposed by environmental and human rights groups.

The project and TotalEnergies are also the subject of a complaint in France for acts that, according to the associations, amount to "climaticide".

In September 2022, the European Parliament expressed concern about "human rights violations" against opponents of the project in Uganda and Tanzania, and asked the French group to study "the feasibility of an alternative route that would better preserve protected and sensitive ecosystems and water resources".

TotalEnergies asserts that the people displaced by the project have been fairly compensated and that environmental protection measures have been taken.

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