The impact of oil projects in Buliisa  

Whereas the oil central processing facility has come with some negatives, locals in Buliisa District believe it is a new dawn that will uplift livelihoods. Photo | file 

What you need to know:

A number of oil-related projects are ongoing in Buliisa District. However, of particular interest has been the oil central processing facility, which has with it brought mixed fortunes, among which include creation of jobs improving housing, electricity connectivity and a boost in land prices

As the construction of the oil central processing facility takes shape in Buliisa District, it has come with mixed fortunes. 

Of course, it has come with a lot of gains but carried along some negatives, among which include an unprecedented increase in the price of land, which has become unaffordable for locals as well as kicking up a lot of dust that threatens the health of locals.   

The facility in Kasenyi village in Ngwedo Sub-county, however, has more to serve people of Buliisa than dust. 

For instance, jobs have already been created while electricity connectivity has improved tremendously over the last one year. 

The oil central processing facility, which is under construction, is hosted on a 772-acre piece of land and is expected to be completed by end of this year

Denis Chombe, a resident of Kasenyi, says the facility has already generated jobs for youth, some of whom are known to him. 

“Our children now have jobs,” he says and notes that this perhaps has reduced on the insecurity in the district, which had resulted from theft of cattle. 

Beyond this, land and the housing sector in the district has improved. Both are now considered commercial enterprises than before.  

Etienne Okumu, the Kisomere village chairperson, says the price for land has more than doubled and there has been an increase in construction of commercial houses. 

This, he says, has seen the “number of permanent houses increase as the number of people looking for houses to rent rises.  

Roads around and those leading to the central processing facility have also been worked on easing movement within the district while electricity supply to both oil related projects and households has improved. 

“We now have constant power, especially for people that stay near the facility,” says Okumu but wonders why government has not set up public schools and improved health facilities to accommodate and treat the growing number of people in the district. 

“We don’t have schools and health facilities. Perhaps, there is also need for safe drinking water,” he says. 

Land has also become very lucrative with prices increasing by more than 90 percent in the last one year. 

For instance, Okumu says, in Kasinyi it is difficult to get land that sells below Shs12m per acre, which just a few years ago was selling for Shs1.5m 

Therefore, he says, the standard of living in places such as Kisomere, Kasinyi, Uduk II, Kibambura in Ngwedo Sub-county, Kirama and Kilima in Kigwera Sub-county has tremendously changed with locals now building semi-permanent houses instead of grass thatched houses that had been part of the district for a very long time. 

While some are out rightly selling their land, some are just leasing or hiring to project related activities such as base camps. 

The hiring, Okumu says, ranges between Shs3.6m and Shs5m per acre annually, while other have put an option of selling just in case they cannot use the land after it has been returned. 

In Ngwedo sub-county, according to Oringi Kennedy, the sub-county chairman, there has seen many improvements from which he projects will be a huge boost to local service revenue that he expects to increase to at least Shs30 million per quarter. 

So far, he says, only 20 percent of companies operating in Ngwedo are remitting local service tax but with improved enforcement, the returns are expected to be much higher. 

“We had projected to collect Shs30 million but only 20 percent of the money has been collected so far,” he says. 

In 2017 government through TotalEnergies acquired 772 acres of land in Kasinyi from 153 people to establish a mini oil refinery central processing facility. 

However, notwithstanding its benefits, the facility has been a source of dust due to increased truck movements, which has already created problems for residents. 

Jelasy Mugisa Mulimba is a resident of Kasinyi. However, he says, it has been hard for him and his family to come to terms with dust being raised by earth moving equipment. 

“From October last year after TotalEnergies sub-contractor cleared close to 750 acres of land in this area, we get a lot of dust. Everything is full of dust. We have written numerous letters but we have not been addressed,” he says. 

About the oil central processing facility 

It will be the centre of purification of crude oil, separating it from other fluids and unwanted solid materials before it is pumped to the distribution terminal from where it will be directed to the East African Crude Oil pipeline for export or to a refinery at Kabale in Hoima District.

The central processing facility is under the Tilenga project operated by TotalEnergies in both Buliisa and Nwoya districts.