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Ugandans not ready for oil production, says National Planning boss

Dr Joseph Muvawala, the Executive Director for National Planning Authority speaking at the dialogue at Kampala Serena Hotel. (PHOTO/FILE)

KAMPALA – Dr. Joseph Muvawala, Executive Director National Planning Authority has revealed that Uganda risks losing out on benefits of the nearing oil production at the development phase of the sector because of lack of preparedness among the population.

He explained that although a number of Ugandans have acquired skills in oil, they aren’t certified and these stand in jeopardy in a fragile sector whose players fear accidents.

“You should know that oil companies fear work-related accidents because one accident affects their share capital. They aren’t going to accept to come do labour work, the machine hits you and you die, the company ceases to exist. That is why they emphasise all workers are taught health and safety but when you look at our institutions, they don’t teach health and safety as part of technical education and the other thing, we haven’t bothered to certify these institutions,” said Muvawala.

Muvawala made the revelation today while meeting with Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga where the two leaders had met to discuss the industrialization of the country, where he noted that although the country is looking at oil production to spur its growth and development, this dream is likely to be hampered by the failure to secure an international certification yet no oil company can risk bringing on board workers who stand great risk of making losses.

Muvawala added: “Unless we prepare ourselves, all the money in the development phase will go back, local content will be too low, local content isn’t used as a word, you can prepare for it, do you have enough companies that can take these contracts? Can your agriculture supply meet standard? As a country we must prepare ourselves, so whatever delay is happing in oil, for me it is a blessing in disguise to give us more time to prepare ourselves.”

He also noted that the ministry of health needs to be put to task to explain how it has prepared for the treatment of the people who will work in the oil sector in Hoima to prevent from flying to Nairobi for even simple treatment at a cost that has to be met by government.

Reacting to the remarks, Kadaga expressed frustrations over the development saying it’s frustrating that ever since oil was discovered, there have been calls to owners of institutions to include the required provisions to this sector but they seem to keep deaf ear.

In a related development, the Authority also expressed concerns over failed implementation of the good industrial development plans enshrined in the National Development plan by the responsible agencies.

In the National development plan II, Uganda was expected to put up 22 industrial parks country wide in areas including Luwero, Jinja, Mbale, Fortportal, Kasese, and Kampala among others to support job creation.

However, Muvawala notes that however much they have compelled government to invest in industrialization as a route to development of this country; this is being failed due to poor implementation program and this has seen some money approved for this purpose taken back to World Bank.

He also said that it’s high time the industrialists are brought on curriculum board to advice on how the national curriculum can be changed to suit the demands of the country as now it eyes industrialization for its development than services.

The NPA boss said: “The reason we call for the curriculum that involves industries is because you produce students for somebody. The people who work in the industry understand the skills they want, they people who work in education understand how to develop those skills, so the two must meet for you to get the rights skills you need in a country. Because the world changes first, the curriculum must change to involve the practitioners but at the same time it should be centralized to the institution to make the changes faster.”

He has lashed at the government for turning every technical institution into universities that now the students passed out are not skilled.

“We believe that the government should stop elevating technical institutions to universities, we need all these technical institutions and must ensure the programs are modular and flexible. We shouldn’t turn technical institutions, we need more artisans,” said Muvawala.

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