Tuesday July 8 2014

Top oil and gas expert dies in car accident

Robert Wandera Omwembe, a petroleum engineer,

Robert Wandera Omwembe, a petroleum engineer, who died in an accident on Sunday. Courtesy photo 

By Ivan Okuda

Kampala- The ruthless hand of death snatched the life of a budding oil and gas expert only days after he returned to the country from further training in China.

Robert Wandera Omwembe, a father of three, perished in an accident at Mbiko in Buikwe District when his car hit a stationary wagon vehicle on Sunday.

The four other occupants survived with injuries. Two were admitted in critical condition but the other pair was discharged.

What makes the tragic ending of Wandera more painful, is the illustrious career rudely cut short.
He had his career future cut out and his skills were vital for Uganda’s nascent oil industry.

Omwembe who doubled as a pastor in Busia was arguably one of the country’s finest young breed of petroleum engineers working with the ministry of Energy.

Family sources told this newspaper that his car hit the wagon so hard that it took rescuers almost two hours to pull him out of the car.

He was rushed to a nearby medical centre from where he breathed his last. He was just 37 years old.

Fresh from China
Mr Fred Sanya, a brother to the deceased told the Daily Monitor yesterday, “he returned to the country last week on Tuesday after a one month course in China. We had a family gathering with him on Friday at Delta Hotel Bweyogerere and he led prayers”.

He talked strongly about prosperity for the newly married couple and went to Busia to preach at his church (Christ Prosperity Ministry)”.

Mr Fred Kabanda, the Principal Geologist and Head Regulatory Unit in the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral development said, Wandera’s demise was a big blow to the country’s nascent oil industry.

In an emotive email to this newspaper, he said: “In addition to his petroleum engineering work, which he did diligently, he was a key team member in the costs management team which reviews oil company budgets. He was also the assistant area manager for the Kingfisher Development area operated by CNOOC Uganda Ltd.

“It is a very big loss to the department and the country but the Lord gives and is the one who takes. He will be remembered for his dedicated service, spiritual guidance and unwavering loyalty to his work. Robert was a spiritual leader in the department. His love for God showed in his work and the way he related with his colleagues,” Mr Kabanda added.

Mr Samuel Makokha, a family friend described the deceased as charismatic and committed to community development, “he contested and came fourth in the hot guild president elections at Makerere in 2001 with Asuman Basalirwa.

He was appointed minister of information and he revived The Makererean. It is such a big loss”.

Wandera is survived by a fairly young family with three children, the eldest aged nine and a widow expecting their fourth child. He will be buried on Thursday in Busia district.