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Bagungu community ask NEMA not to approve Buliisa oil project

Families evicted in an oil-rich Kyangwali sub-county in Bulinda village, Buliisa district. (FILE PHOTO)

BULIISA– Bagungu community has called upon NEMA not to approve of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report for the “TILENGA Project” in Buliisa District.

“While BACA welcomes NEMA’s call for public scrutiny and comments on the ESIA report for the proposed “TILENGA project” for harnessing of the Oil and Gas resource in the Albertine Graben, it urges NEMA not to approve the ESIA report in its entirety unless a number of issues, as hereunder, are addressed,” Dr Enoch Bigirwa the patron of Bagungu community Association (BACA).

Bigirwa said that the first concern is that an International Finance Corporation PS 7 detail on how international Oil Company intending to extract a natural resource must treat and conduct themselves among indigenous people’s found in ancestral areas.

The Bagungu, like all other indigenous communities have administrations to date, including the gazetting their land as game reserves (to which Bagungu Wildlife Game Reserve, Murchision falls national park, Budongo forest etc).

Parliament on February 8, 2018 was petitioned on the same. BACA are an indigenous, voluntary, nonpartisan and non-segregative Association, legally registered as a community based organization (CBO), exists for the soci-cultural and economic development of Bagungu and other communities.

During a press conference held today at Parliament, Buliisa MP, Stephen Mukitale who led the delegation told the journalists during a press conference on Wednesday at Parliament that they are not against the oil project but unfortunately, assessment was done without consulting the indigenous Bagungu community who are the right owners of the land. Adding that the ESIA report was done without including the decision of the indigenous people yet this is their hereditary.

“We are happy about the oil discovery in Buliisa but we want government to first address the issues and concerns raised by the community before proceeding with the project because we want to know their livehood even after the oil,” Mukitale noted.

Mukitale expressed the need to fund government agencies like NEMA, Ministry of water, Local Government and Public Service since currently they lack funds for regulation, otherwise, we could get problems.

Bigirwa also explained that the “TILENGA project” comprises several projects including below the River Nile pipeline from Nwoya District, the central processing facility in Kasenyi Buliisa district, several oil wells, feeder pipelines, oil roads, camps, Airstrip, pipeline to proposed refinery in Kabaale, etc which would have necessitated separate ESIAs as they are different. They also note that Buliisa District still remains among the least developed, most marginalized, most excluded and least represented even in cabinet among others.

“The community want the limited time, of less than a month given for stakeholder input and scrutiny of the 3000+pages ESIA report, written in technical English only, providing for a mere two public hearings in Buliisa and Nwoya to a predominately illiterate people more especially

in Oil and gas issues, the deliberate minimization of widely known negative effects of Oil and Gas developments to the physical environment through oil spills, seepage, etc negative effects on humans, livestock concentration was to effects on wildlife,” Bigirwa added.

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