Auditor General John Muwanga has tasked Education ministry to swiftly intervene in the ongoing administrative and managerial crises at the Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) currently in a “non-operational” state.
According to Mr Muwanga, the operations of the institute are failing because they are remotely “managed at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), including administration, finance and logistics,” in Kampala.
In his report, Mr Muwanga noted that since its establishment, the government’s oil training institute has not had a clear curriculum, available lecturers are irregularly paid most of whom were recruited without approval of the ministry. He also points out that many senior administrative positions like Registrars and Bursars remain vacant, leading to a managerial crisis. “The college has had a delayed intake of students for the financial year and yet direct utility overheads like water, and electricity had been paid,” the AG states, adding that only the warden’s office and dormitory for visiting lecturers from Kampala are occupied while the rest of the facilities are non-operational.
Following the announcement of Uganda’ oil commercial feasibility in 2006, the government established UPIK in 2010 to nurture local skills and also boost local human resource capacity to reduce reliance on foreign service providers in the sector. However, recent reports indicate that the first graduates of the college have not found jobs in the budding sector, because most of the programme modules taught are focused on activities like pipe fitting, drilling and health and safety which cannot secure jobs at the moment.
The institute offers a diploma in technical skills related to oil and gas, followed by an additional six-month training in Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Muwanga also reported that the college lacks its own permanent facilities and while some construction of structures was ongoing, the pace is very slow with managers raising issues of inadequate financing.
Most of the existing facilities used are either rented or borrowed from the Uganda Cooperative College (UCC) Kigumba, which threatens the existence of UPIK, which has also failed to process a land title for the about 200 acre land donated by UCC.
The report also faults UPIK management headed by Prof Charles Kwesiga for lacking qualified lecturers; diversion of the college resources like vehicles and funds into other activities and the mingling the institute funds with those of UIRI still headed by Prof Kwesiga. The AG says this anomaly must be urgently addressed.
Prof Kwesiga described the report as ridiculous, saying: “If as leaders of UPIK [we] were never consulted anywhere on this research, then it lacks credibility.” The Education Minister, Ms Jessica Alupo, however, partly passed the blame to her “predecessor” as the source of the ongoing muddle between UIRI and UPIK. Both institutes are headed by Prof Kwesiga.
Ms Alupo acknowledged the current crisis, but hinted on the ongoing interventions like “appointment of administrative manpower” whose names she said have “already been forwarded to the Public Service Ministry for screening.”
Currently there are three licensed oil companies, Britain’s Tullow Oil Plc, France’s Total E&P and China’s CNOOC, most of which still import manpower due to a lack of skilled local human resource. Total’s General Manager, Mr Loic Laurendel, told the Sunday Monitor that capacity building is still required for many workers in the industry, but recommended advanced studies abroad for local personnel to acquire the necessary standards before they can be employed.