Oil workers at Kigogole-5 oil well in Buliisa District in Bunyoro.PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI

They also said it should show its commitment in addressing environmental impacts that may accrue from oil drilling activities in the area.

The CSO and NGOs said government had not yet accounted for sh3trillion got from pre-production of oil.

Speaking last week at Hoima Kolping Hotel during a meeting with the Oil exploring companies, the government was called upon to share with the oil companies the developments and plans going on and update all stakeholders about upcoming opportunities in the oil sector.

The meeting was organized by Hoima district NGO forum and attracted the clergy, politicians, elderly and the youth among others.

Jackson Wabyona, the chairperson for Bunyoro Local Oil and Gas Advocacy group (BLOGA) said the sh3trillion earned represents about 40% of the national budget which stands at sh8 trillion presently.

He said the money would at least have had a significant social-economic change on the lives of the people of Uganda and the Albertine rift which is not the case.

Robert Rukahemura, the secretary general for Kitara Media Practitioners press club said little is done on ground by government as an indicator to the communities in the oil region that they could benefit if actual oil production begins.

Rukahemura added that all that is seen on ground are the few hotels, financial institutions built by private investors and schools and health centers established by oil Exploration Companies and not by government.

He demanded that government explains how this money was spent and particularly in Bunyoro where communities are likely to face the oil associated negative effects.

“We want to be educated about who is doing what so that if bad things happen there is someone to blame,” Tom Muhe, a former district Councilor for Kyangwali Sub-county and district publicist for NRM said.

Muhe said many issues need to be addressed before oil starts to flow like land ownership, environment since they are the resource owned by the people.

He said failure to address the above concerns might result into crisis situations in future ignited by the locals.

Paul Hatanga, the manager of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and wildlife conservation, reiterated that,20% of the world amphibians, 20% of Africa’s plants, more than half of Africa birds, Uganda’s biggest parks,
The parks he named them as Muchison and Queen Elizabeth are located in the Albertine Rift where explorations are taking place.

Hatanga, said the Albertine area also conserves more threatened species than anywhere in Africa.
He demanded an explanation from government on whether there is a deliberate strategy on how oil exploration would coexist with tourism since oil will run out after a certain period.

Alex Nyombi, an official from the petroleum department in the ministry of energy defended government arguing that whatever is going on in the fledgling sector is within the laws governing the oil and gas sector in Uganda.

Nyombi added that before any seismic study is conducted oil companies are supposed to conduct an environmental impact assessment that is later presented to NEMA which guides them and later gives a go ahead.
He urged people to access information regarding the oil sector at www.petroleum.go.ug , so that they can speak from an informed point of view and stop feeding on hearsay.

He said all information regarding developments in the oil sector including environmental conservation strategies, Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), revenue sharing and production are well elaborated on that website.

Nyombi on the pre-production revenue explained that government has used the money to construct roads, health centers and schools that never existed before especially in Buliisa and some parts of Hoima districts.

He cited the 80 Km Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya road that have been contracted to KOLIN Construction a Turkish company and whose tarmacking is to begin soon.

“All these are indicators that Oil money is being put to good use,” he said.

Speaking also during the same meet Meckie Eoine, general manager Tullow Oil said aware of the social environmental impact from oil his company and the other companies including CNOOC and Total are all committed on issues to do with environment.

Eoine added that, the three partners will be carrying out detailed social baseline environmental studies with the government by the end of this year.

He said his company is looking forward to locating ten oil wells in one part to minimize footprints of drilling activity on environment.

By Robert Atuhairwe, The New Vision

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