Uganda’ cumulative oil resources, currently estimated at 3.5 billion barrels, could turn into a nightmare, a new report has said.
The oil resource is expected to transform Uganda into a “middle income” economy, according to the government.
The report identifies land grabbing, environmental degradation and improper handling of oil waste materials as some of the key examples of human right abuses.
Others abuses include withholding of vital information from the public by government and sex and labour exploitation, deceitful land compensations, among other.
These are contained in the Uganda Human Rights Commission status report that was launched in Kampala yesterday.
The report urges relevant stakeholders to urgently pursue such concerns through applying the Human Rights-Based Approach - in pursuing development.
The UHCR’s acting chairperson, Dr Katebalirwe Amooti, said while releasing the report titled - Oil in Uganda; Emerging Human Rights Issues” whereas the state has the overall responsibility to ensure protection and promotion of human rights, business enterprises - oil companies, are also expected to respect people’s as they undertake their businesses.
“…the findings coupled with the mixed reactions with which the discovery of oil and gas were received, provide a fertile ground for the potential of failure to realise the benefits which the (oil) industry is expected to provide” he said.
The report is based on findings conducted in the oil rich Albertine districts of Hoima, Nwoya, Nebbi, Buliisa and Amuru.
The 57-page report extensively delves into the ongoing thorny implementation of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) to evacuate 7,118 people from 13 villages in Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima in preparation for the the construction of a 60,000 barrels-per-day Greenfield refinery to start in 2015.
Several residents claim their property have been undervalued and are being paid less in accordance with prevailing market conditions, and some have vowed not to leave.
Ministry of Energy officials direclty concerned were not present but the head of Petroleum Exploration and Production Department, Ernest Rubondo, when contacted for a response on the matter said, he had not seen the report yet.
“It’s hard to comment on the matter because we have not seen nor received the report, but we will have a dialogue when it comes,” Mr Rubondo said.
Property rates were set by respective district heads and thereafter approved by the Chief government valuer, who in the report acknowledged how problematic the issue has become, although it’s currently beyond his hands for mending.
The report also explores government’ misty relationship with Oil Civil Society Oganisations, punctuated with intimidations and mistrust and heavy security presence in Hoima.
Women, accordingly, have become vulnerable to prostitution, domestic violence due to property and sexual exploitation in oil camps; but Oil companies Tullow and Total’ representatives repulsed the claims.