Residents of Kikuube and Hoima districts in Bunyoro kingdom have appealed to government to consider giving them additional services, skilling and sensitization in order to be able to benefit from the oil project that is located in the areas.
Bunyoro in western Uganda is the host for the Kingfisher Development Project and Tilenga Development project, the two main oil projects that Uganda has.
As the main project affected persons, the Bunyoro kingdom locals feel that they should be the first beneficiaries of the Oil through improved service delivery and social development for the communities.
However, according to most of them, they have not been well prepared and may not be able to benefit from the resource if government and the developers (CNOOC Uganda Limited) do not put in more effort to sensitize them on the opportunities from the developments of the oil project.
This came out during the two public hearings that were organized by Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) in partnership with NEMA for the Kingfisher Development Project Environmental Assessment (ESIA) report held at Rwemisanga primary school in kikuube district on Wednesday 19th June 2019 and Kabaale Primary School in Hoima district on Friday 21th of June 2019.
The locals that came in huge numbers to attend the public hearings used the opportunities to raise concerns regarding compensation, payments, resettlements, public service delivery, job and market opportunities.
Kadir Kirungi the LC5 chairman, Hoima district at the Kabaale Primary School Public Hearing said the development of the Kingfisher oil dams and the feeder pipeline has and will cause a lot of disruptions for the people in the areas hence the need for government and the developer to pay more attention to the needs of the people in the project affected area, so that the area is not a worse state than it was in before oil was discovered. He added that the population influx in the area as a result of oil production will bring many negative effects to the area.
“There will be diseases, land grabbing, and resource exhaustion at the lake among others. CNOOC should put in place measures to control these problems. There is need for financial literacy especially for people receiving money so that they do not use the compensation money poorly and end up in a worse economic state’’ she said
Hon Businge Harriet, the NRM leader in Hoima district emphasized the need to protect girls from immoral sexual activities that may result from the influx of foreigners coming to work in the oil sector that may result into cultural erosion. She also asked government to support the Bunyoro women as their main source of income, agriculture will be affected by the oil production
James Muhindo, from Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas commended PAU and NEMA for bringing the public hearings to the affected areas and not in Kampala, but asked CNOOC Uganda to focus more on the social economic impact and cross border issues that will result from the project in addition to the environment. He further criticized the organizers for failing to direct the locals on the actual purpose of the hearing as most of the participants focused on their social economic problems instead of discussing the report.
Hon Muhairwe Daniel Mpamizo, the MP Buhaguzi county Kikuube District during the Rwemisanga primary school hearing urged government and CNOOC limited to give a formal land demarcation or land titles to the locals who are unable to process land titles for themselves so that they can also benefit equally like the rich from their land. He further asked government and CNOOC to preserve the environment and specifically protect Bugoma forest.
Wakabi Pius, the MP Bugahya County, Hoima District said the National Local Content should largely focus on the locals in the affected areas instead of generalization.
The two public hearings were organized in accordance with the National Environmental Act and Regulation to give a platform on which all relevant stakeholders and the developer can express opinions and offer suggestions on the proposed ESIA report which will influence the NEMA decision making on whether to approve the Kingfisher ESIA report
While giving remarks at both hearings, the representative for the Executive Director PAU, Peninah Aheebwa, Director Technical support service assured the residents that all their opinions and concerns will be addressed before the report is approved and project commences
“As the regulator, our role is to ensure that these international oil companies do all their work within the law and does not pose any risk and permanent damage to the areas of operation. These public hearings are organized to give you an opportunity to tell us what is on ground in relation to the report. It also gives us an opportunity to sensitize and inform you about the opportunities that the oil project presents’’ she said
Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development told the locals that the public hearing and the approval of the ESIA report is a step closer to the Final Investment Decision (FID) expected to be finalized by the developers by end of this year. He further assured them that the delay of the FID is good for Uganda as government is strategically bargaining for maximum benefits from the oil project for Ugandans
‘There is no wrong in delaying the oil production. We need to be sure that all processes, policies and laws are adequately followed so that Ugandans can benefit maximally from this project and that the project does not become a curse for us,’ he said
The kingfisher development project that will be located in Kikuube and Hoima districts has components that include; the development of four well pads holding 31 wheels, a central processing facility, flow lines to transport well fluids from production wells and the central processing facility; a 46km feeder pipeline to transport the oil and associated supporting infrastructure like camps, airstrip, jetty, infield access roads among others
The Kingfisher development project ESIA was undertaken by Golder Associates from UK and Eco and partner consult from Uganda on behalf of CNOOC Uganda Limited, that was awarded the license to develop kingfisher project by government in 2012
The two public hearings were presided over by Professor Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo from the School of Gender Studies at Makerere University.