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Omondi: Teach other people what you know

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Omondi is a ‘Competent Person in Lifting Operations’, the pinnacle of roles in the lifting operations space. photo/TREVOR LUTALO

Every child has a dream.

In her autobiography Becoming, Michelle Obama argues that one does not need to hold on to a childhood dream.

“It’s okay to change your mind,” she writes, adding that dreams should be flexible for every child to explore.

Jacob Omondi’s childhood dream was to become a journalist who told and celebrated people through their stories. It’s a dream that never was.

Omondi has been a technical guy for all his working years since 2004. When he started out in Jinja as a casual labourer, he could scarcely tell that that was a launchpad into what was for long going to be the ground on which he earned his bread. The river was flowing and he had immersed himself to test the depth of the waters of his working life.

He joined the oil fields after a five-year stint in Jinja with a logistics company as a banksman (helper) before graduating as a crane operator. It was in this role that he joined Transtrac ltd, a sister company to Threeways shipping service in 2009.

Today, though a lot of emphasis is being put on technical education, the field has not yet picked momentum to attract sufficient number of people. According to Omondi, young people want an assured path to the big bag and the perks that come along. They want to avoid putting in the time. 

From the time he joined the field to date, the same challenges remain. The lack of technical expertise ranks top on the list.

“It’s not that there are no opportunities. Few people are willing to invest the time to learn. It takes time. It has taken me 20 years to get here.”

Touching lives

With his experience, Omondi believes the best legacy anyone can ever have is to touch the lives of others.

 “Teach other people what you know.”

He observes, “There is a wide knowledge gap that can only be closed by teaching others. On the other hand, there should be a willingness to learn. Our work is technical, you can avoid that.”

Omondi is doing the heavy work that pieces rig moves together.

Important to note is that this critical lift well pad JBR04 was done with close supervision of our CPLO Omondi Jacob who had this to say about the job preparation.

“There is no room for error on the site since safety is paramount. The key to accomplishing these tasks is planning and preparing well. The lifting plans, the cranes, and the personnel have all to be precise.”

The lift was done using 220 Ton Crane and 110 Ton Crane all fully rigged with full counterweights using steel 4-meter wire ropes.

In September / October 2024 when another oil rig is moved, this will be an addition to the many that have already been moved over the past years. The oil and gas industry was off to a speedy set-up before 2014. Between 2009 and 2014, a lot of work was done in the fields in quiet. 53 rigs were moved at the time. Even then, no incidents or accidents were registered. Then came 2014 and the work stalled.

Omondi was part of all this. He was a first-hand witness and participant in this process. At the time, the hands were working in silence. Heritage, the first oil company that came through was deep in the ground doing the heavy lifting until they handed it over to Tullow Oil.

And Omondi was there.

Between 2016 and 2019, there was scarcely any heavy lifting to do on the ground in the oil space which prompted Omondi to seek a window of growth.

“I wanted to become the best I could in my work,” he says.

When an opportunity opened up in Chad, he grabbed it by the horns which led to his five-year stay out of the country where he honed his skills to become a Competent Person in Lifting Operations, the pinnacle of roles in the lifting operations space. His experience gives the company an added advantage.

In the line of execution of the lifting space, one cannot work alone. It is always teamwork. That is the only way to reduce the risk of incidents, near misses and accidents.

“Working with machinery is very delicate. One mistake can cost you a life. The attention to detail is one reason that has shaped the discipline that comes with this kind of work, and here, we take care extreme attention to detail,” he says.

After the signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) in February 2023, the oil space saw a commitment to invest $10 billion in the sector.

Threeways is a logistics solutions company. Most of its work is about moving things from one point to another. It is technical work. You don’t read about it in books. You roll up your sleeves and do things. Over the years, the company has built enough competence, experience and expertise to work in this environment.  This has qualified the company to do intrafield logistics where experienced people like Jacob come into play.

A giant of a man, Omondi highlights that looking back, discipline is one particular attribute that has brought him this far.

His energy always fills up the room yet his humility brings in everyone. Over the years, he has been in and out of Threeways Shipping Services but there is no day he has ever felt deserted.

 “I speak for myself and I know I speak for many others when I say we are a family. You are always welcome at home. That’s what it feels like working here,” Lorna Nankya, the Human Resource Manager says, adding that there is indeed, scarcity of skillset, but over the past year, the firm has successfully navigated the oil and gas sector, creating significant job opportunities for local communities by provided jobs, training, and capacity-building initiatives within the intrafields, establishing ourselves as leading players in the market.

“This ongoing effort underscores our commitment to fostering local talent and development. However, we continue to face challenges due to the scarcity of specialized skill sets, particularly in lifting operations. Addressing this skills gap remains a priority as we strive to enhance our operational efficiency and support the growth of the local workforce. Omondi is thus doing a good job, not just for us, but as expert in local content,” Nankya says.

As his clock ticks towards retirement, the 40-year-old wants to dedicate more of his time to teaching young people the stuff he has learnt over the years. He works with about 50 people depending on the equipment deployed. One crane demands no less than 4 people, sometimes they deploy about 8 cranes at ago.

“I encourage young people to pick interest in doing the small tasks. Everyone wants to start big, but it’s not always the case.”

The father of three looks back at life with gratitude. The journalist who did not become has since built towers that will live longer than him. He is proud of his work in the oil and gas sector.

A man with hearty laughter, when Jacob is not scouring through lifting operations, he prefers to sit back and watch his favourite football team, Tottenham Hotspur FC, play.


“Working with machinery is very delicate. One mistake can cost you a life. The attention to detail is one reason that has shaped the discipline that comes with this kind of work, and at Threeways shipping, we take care extreme attention to detail,” he says.