Uganda police Tuesday morning arrested a yet-to-be-specified number of university students who were marching to the office of the European Union Delegation in Kampala to protest against the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
The European Parliament recently issued a resolution dissuading Uganda from proceeding with its ambitious plans of extracting its crude in the Albertine Graben region. Uganda in 2006 discovered 6.5bn barrels of crude oil in western Uganda. Of that, 1.7bn barrels are recoverable and marketable.
The resolution also protested the proposed pipeline that will export Uganda’s crude to the international market through the Tanzania port of Tanga from Hoima, western Uganda. The 1444km pipeline carrying Uganda’s waxy crude will be the longest heated pipeline in the world.
Authorities in Kampala received the resolution with disdain with many government officials describing the EU decision as economic sabotage and neocolonialism by the European states. Many demanded the EU respect Uganda’s independence and sovereignty to make a decision that delivers economic development and social-economic transformation.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has on many occasions harshly spoken out about the EU resolution vowing that Uganda will go ahead with its oil projects and warning French oil company TotalEnergies that if it bows out, the country will get another investor.
The resolution by the EU also divided public opinion. Recently, several pro-oil projects Ugandans were seen protesting outside the EU offices at Crested Towers under the watch of the police. This was followed by a procession by secondary school students who protested against the EU resolution under the watch and protection of the police.
However, police today have harshly quelled peaceful protests by the anti-EACOP campaigners rudely bundling many onto waiting police patrol pickups handcuffed.
Yesterday at Uganda Media Centre, the Head of Co-operation at the European Union Delegation, Caroline Adriansen, said the EU parliament resolution is not binding and thus does not in any way affect the oil projects in Uganda.
“We are engaging the responsible governments to reach consensus on what needs to be done, but as we do that, the project must continue,” Adriansen told journalists in Kampala.