HOIMA: People in Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa, Nwoya districts and surrounding areas have and still are undergoing a massive economic and social transition through the participation in a series of live transforming livelihood improvement programmes.
Ranging from infrastructure development, agriculture, housing, and skilling to direct and indirect employment, locals in the host communities in the Bunyoro region have different oil and gas sector players to thank for this mega transformation.
With developments still ongoing in the sector, the positive impact of the various projects at Kingfisher and Tilenga is already noticeable.
One of the beneficiaries John Oketch, an elderly in living in a small village in Buliisa appreciated the Tilenga project because as a result of its operation in the area, he was able to get a brand new permanent house and some money as compensation for the semi-permanent house that he lost during the construction of one of the access roads in the area.
“My semi-permanent grass thatched house was next to the road, so as they were going to construct the road, I was given a plot of land where they constructed me a bigger permanent house,” Oketch revealed, noting that besides the lovely house, he was also given money which he used to pay school fees for his children.
Just like Oketch, many locals have benefited from the oil and gas projects. Various players in the sector have supported communities by introducing locals to modern farming methods, and skilling of locals who are later employed as skilled and semi-skilled labourers in the various projects.
In the Kingfisher project itself, locals have been introduced to treated and safe tap water, cutting down on the cholera cases recorded in the area in the past.
James Katusiime an attendant of the Gravity Water Flow Project in Buhuka Village, Hoima District revealed that before the project was launched last year (2022), locals depended on u treated water drawn from Lake Albert and a few taps that also had untreated water.
“As a result of using untreated and unsafe water, hospitals started to report an increasing number of cholera cases. Citing what the problem was, CNOOC Uganda handed over a Gravity Water Flow Project to over 13000 beneficiaries,” Katusiime narrated.
He also said, “46 taps were built around the village and CNOOC continues to buy water treatment chemicals and pay salaries of employees of the Gravity Water Flow Project”.
In the Tilenga project, Project Affected Persons (PAPs) are undergoing various livelihood improvement programmes in agriculture, cassava improvement, fruit tree farming, beekeeping, livestock, vocational skills and job opportunities.
Christopher Ocowun, the TOTAL E&P Public Relations and Public Affairs Co-ordinator in Tilenga said that with about 5,523 displaced persons during the land acquisition process, many have been and still are being compensated with resettlement houses, land and money.
“Those compensated with cash were taken through financial literacy classes,” he said, adding that also those interested in farming were introduced to better methods and technologies to add value to their produce.
Gloria Sebikari, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda Head of Cooperate Affairs also expressed that besides the locals, the entire country is going to benefit from various projects in the oil and gas sector.
Pointing out Kabalega International Airport as the second largest airport in the country after Entebbe International Airport, Sebikari said, “Kabalega International Airport is not just an airport and a refinery but a whole industrial complex”.
She said the airport will offer a range of benefits to Ugandans from promoting the commercialization of agriculture leading to the export of agricultural products to promoting the tourism sector because the airport will offer quick access to tourist attractions.
Uganda’s oil and gas sector has transitioned from the exploration phase to the development phase in preparation for the first oil production come 2025. The extraction, processing, and distribution of oil require a great deal of infrastructure, which demands the considerable acquisition of land leading to the displacement of people in host communities.
On the positive side, these projects have created several opportunities for some of those people including the development of infrastructure in the region and most of the displaced persons have been and still are being compensated.
The most outstanding infrastructure is the roads, locally referred to as the ‘oil roads’, which have greatly improved access to and within the region.