The parliamentary committee investigating irregularities in Uganda’s oil and gas sector visited the oil-rich Bunyoro region this week and interfaced with Bunyoro Kingdom, civil society activists and communities living adjacent to oil sites.
Led by Bungokho MP Michael Werikhe, the seven-man committee received inputs from various stakeholders about their fears and expectations in the country’s nascent oil industry.
On Monday, the committee was addressed by the Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara, Dr Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, who advocated for the inclusion of his cultural institution in the oil revenue sharing. He said the royalties will help improve infrastructure, preserve culture and improve the welfare of the kingdom’s subjects.
The kingdom argues that due to the historical injustices meted out by the colonialists against the Banyoro for resisting imperialism under the reign of Omukama Kabalega, the cultural institution deserves an affirmative action from government and oil companies.
Although endowed with various natural resources, the kingdom claims that its subjects are impoverished and marginalised.
The kingdom, which expressed fears of environmental degradation when commercial oil production begins, wants special consideration for its people in regard to jobs, contracts and training through supporting vocational education. “His majesty wants assurance that oil activities will not pollute the environment,” Mr Yolam Nsamba, the Omukama’s principal private secretary, said.
The adhoc committee visited Kabale Parish in Buseruka Sub-county where government plans to set up a refinery, before proceeding to Mputa and Waraga oil fields. Mr Werikhe said the committee has picked concerns ranging from fears of environmental degradation, displacement and other negative expectations.
“We shall come up with recommendations but mostly advocate for the inclusion of local content, royalties and prudent environmental protection in the upcoming laws,” Mr Werikhe said.