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  • Government announces five new blocks for licensing

    Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni has announced the second round of competitive bidding for five new blocks in the Albertine Graben in Uganda.

    Muloni made the announcement on Wednesday 9th May, 2019 during the 9th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition (EAPCE ‘19) at Pride Inn, Mombasa, Kenya.

    The five blocks are; Avivi (1,026 Sq. Km) in Arua district; Omuka (750 Sq. Km) in Nebbi district, Kasuruban (1,285 Sq. Km) in Buliisa/Pakwach districts, Turaco (637 Sq. Km) in Ntoroko district, and Ngaji (1,230 Sq. Km) in Kanungu/Rukungiri districts.

    According to a statement on the Ministry’s official Facebook page, the Minister said they were expecting many potential exploration companies for the blocks given that the current price of crude oil is high and very attractive for investment. She said the cost of finding oil in Uganda has been very low at less than a dollar per barrel as compared to the world average of two dollars per barrel.

    “I am very pleased to announce that my five new brides are ready. They are very attractive and easy to find. I invite investors to come and take them up,” Muloni said.

    Muloni boasted of a very conducive investment climate in Uganda singling out peace and security, infrastructure development, tax incentives and good human resource made of a youthful and educated population.

    The Ministry will consequently issue a Request for Qualification (RFQ) inviting interested firms and/or consortia to submit applications within a period of 6 months.

    “Upon evaluation of the applications, the successful firms/consortia will be issued with bidding documents comprising the model production sharing agreement and data sale regulations among others,” according to the Minister’s statement.

    The bidding process will take five months and result in the negotiations and signing of production sharing agreements between Government and the successful bidders. The licensing round is expected to be concluded with the award of Petroleum Exploration Licenses to successful firms by December 2020.

    Uganda launched its first oil block auction in 2015, covering six exploration areas measuring 2,674 square kilometres. Prior to that, the country handed out blocks on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • NEMA Grants ESIA Certificate for TILENGA Oil Development Project

    After months of review and consultations, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) granted Certificate of Approval for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process for the TILENGA Oil development project in Nwoya and Buliisa districts. This paves way for the oil companies to proceed with other vital steps towards making of the Final investment Decision (FID).

    The Certificate of Approval was issued on 15th April 2019 and was awarded to Total E&P Uganda (TEPU) and Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Ltd (TUOP) for the proposed development of six oil fields (with 34 oil production pads), an industrial area, buried pipelines and other supporting infrastructure for License Areas 1 and 2 operated by TEPU and TUOP respectively.

    The approvals followed public hearings in the oil host communities of Buliisa and Nwoya districts (and neighboring districts of Hoima, Masindi, and Pakwach) on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report. However, some Civil Society Organizations previously urged NEMA not to approve the project citing several loopholes that required serious rectification and consideration before any form of approval.

    The overall objective of the TILENGA Project is to develop the discoveries in License Areas 1 and 2 to enable commercial production of the oil and gas resources in an economically prudent plus environmentally and socially responsible manner using sound reservoir management principles and best industry practices. This includes ensuring the safety of workers and the public, and limiting as far as practicable adverse environmental and social impacts of the projects’ activities, enhancing the beneficial impacts, and also seeking to achieve a net gain in biodiversity and ecosystem services as relevant as possible, in compliance with national laws and international standards.

    An Environment and Social Management Plan (ESMP) has been developed in order to support the development and implementation of the mitigation measures identified in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report. The environmental and social management plan details activities, impacts, proposed mitigation and monitoring mechanisms with associated roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders. Once developed, Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector is expected to spur economic growth and development through growth of local businesses, provision of employment and generation of more revenues to finance the country’s development priorities.

    Before undertaking any project that is likely to impact the environment, the National Environment Act Cap 153 requires developers to undertake Environmental and Social Impact Assessments which are approved by NEMA before the project is cleared for implementation. NEMA’s Executive Director, Dr. Tom Okurut said the oil companies were cleared to undertake oil fields’ development in a manner that will also ensure that the environment is protected. He said, NEMA approved the developments after giving key guidance on the requirements which the developers have to adhere to.

    For instance, NEMA tasked developers to restore sites where they shall be operating. Oil developers normally clear vegetation during field operations, they accumulate debris and other solid and liquid wastes. The developers will thus be required to have restoration and oil spill management plans among others, to mitigate physical impacts and oil spills whenever they occur, and have to be managed well. Additionally, the developers shall be required to devise appropriate Social Impacts Management Plans to enable proper management of the social impacts that shall arise from the planned developments.

    Composition The TILENGA project so far includes Jobi-Rii, Gunya and Ngiri fields licensed to TEPU; and Kasemene-Wahrindi, Nsoga, Ngege, and Kigogole – Ngara Oil fields licensed to TUOP.

    According to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report, the TILENGA project is composed of production well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi Operations Camp, a water abstraction system, Victoria Nile crossing, River Nile Pipeline crossing and some critical roads among others. The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support bases, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits among others.

    Milestone “The issuance of the certificate of approval is one of the key milestones for the development of the (TILENGA) project. It shows the progress being made in the development of the oil sub-sector,” said Gloria Sebikari, a Manager of Corporate Affairs and Public Relations at Petroleum Authority of Uganda.

    The approval comes at a time when Government is undertaking various activities in the area that has been gazzeted for the project. A Land acquisition and resettlement process, negotiations with Project Affected Persons (PAPs), livelihood restoration interventions for PAPs are all on-going.

    The government through its licensed oil companies discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls National Park and South of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district, among other exploration areas.

    Enter UNOC In a related development, Uganda National Oil Company Limited (UNOC) is in negotiations with the JV partners – Tullow, Total and CNOOC to comply with state participation requirements under the Production Sharing Agreements and the Petroleum Act, 2013.

    UNOC is mandated to hold and manage 15% State participating interest in the TILENGA Project. The Company is currently negotiating the back-in into the Joint Operating Agreements (JOAs) that is required to allow for the State Participation in the TILENGA Project. Signing of the JOA will enable UNOC to take an active part in project investment decision making through the JV Partners’ Operating Committee Meetings, including sanctioning of work programs, budgets, contracts and expenditures.

    Overall, the developments in the Oil and Gas sub-sector and particularly the TILENGA project clearly indicate beneficial progress in decision-making on vital aspects required to enable realization of key milestones towards attainment of first oil in Uganda.

    By Edward Ssekika, Robert Mwesigye & Oil in Uganda Correspondent in

  • The Big Story Behind the Eviction of Mubende Gold Miners

    In the aftermath of the ruthless eviction of Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) from the gold mines in Mubende District on August 3, 2017, President Museveni said he had not given the directive but rather had only told the soldiers and other security agencies to be on standby. Victims of that unforgettable day recount how security personnel had told them that the deployment was to support the process of registering the miners. “However, when I awoke that morning I looked around the mines and it looked like a scene from a war movie. Tanks had been stationed on hill tops facing us. That day I thought there was war,” recounted Emmanuel Kibirige, an artisanal gold miner who has been involved in the trade for the last about 12 years. That and many more stories of pandemonium have severally been told by thousands of victims who were given a two-hour ultimatum by the operations Commander of the day to vacate the mines. In the ensuing chaos, property and cash worth billions of shillings were lost in a very short time. Mubende vis a vis Other gold mining areas of Uganda Artisanal gold mining in Uganda takes place majorly in areas of Mubende, Busia, Namayingo, Buhweju, Karamoja and Bugiri. Whereas the 2006 geophysical aerial survey was not carried out in Karamoja owing to insecurity, gold mining is mainly attributed to speculators. As such gold rushes are common in the sub-region as miners shift from place to place and, according to the Acting District Natural Resources Officer of Nakapiripirit, some mining companies that operate are not known whether they possess licenses or not. Elsewhere, artisanal miners and big players such as mining companies have secured licenses to operate hence a semblance of order albeit a few cases of displacement and poor compensation of locals. In Busia for example, where the gold mining trade, that dates back to the 1930s, has run in families across generations, there are about 456 location licenses held by artisanal miners who are mostly natives. Vincent Kedi, the Principal Mining Engineer at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) noted that ASMs in Busia are more organized which helps to facilitate the process faster. “Whereas we have sensitized miners across the country about existing mining procedures, people in Busia are the only ones that have taken heed. The moment they discover an area with gold they immediately embark on processing a location license,” he said. In comparison however, Mubende is challenging. Over 90% of the people that operated in the mines were not natives which explained the population of more than 50,000 people. These included foreigners from neighbouring countries mainly DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. Interestingly, artisanal gold mining in Mubende dates as far back as the 1980s, according the Kitumbi Sub-county Community Development Officer, Edward Ssenkusu, also a born of the area. “Around 1989, I always heard my father one Ssemanda Edward say that he was going to the mines at Kamalange and on several occasions, while visiting my aunt Nankusu, I passed Kamalange wetland and saw men carrying sacks of sand which contained the gold deposits,” Senkusu says. However, Gertrude Njuba, a bush war heroine, claims she first acquired this gold mining area of Mubende in 1986, “without the slightest hint of what lay underneath,” according to reference of an interview by the Daily Monitor. Her company first acquired a location license for the area measuring about 207 square kilometers in 1987, and subsequently a mining lease for the area in 1994. Battle of licenses During a handover ceremony of safety gears to members of Singo Artisanal & Small Scale Miners Association (SASSMA) miners by ActionAid Uganda in 2016, the spokesperson then John Bosco Bukya said they had applied for location licenses in 2013 but were yet to get a response. However, records at the DGSM indicate that the area for which the miners had applied, having already been working there without a license, was licensed to AUC Mining (U) Limited on 20th February 2013, having applied on 22nd October, 2012. The area measures 144.7824 square kilometers. The miners however argued that the original company, Gemstone International, originally had an exploration license for the area, whose duration was three years, of which upon expiration the company was expected to relinquish 50% of the area. Effectively, the company had not done any exploration because the miners occupied the area. In a dossier by AUC Mining U) Limited presented to the President making their case as the rightful licensed party for the disputed area, they indicated that the miners had interfered with their work where they had marked sample sites from which they extracted data. “The miners actually started invading the area after discovering the company had discovered samples of gold. The local people that were employed during these geophysical studies spread the word and people started flocking the area,” Kedi said. Anthony Kinene, the Natural Resources Officer of Mubende and borne of the area, says the first official report of artisanal gold miners in Mubende was in 2012 when the numbers became astronomical. According to the dossier, the company had spent close to 57 billion shillings on geological activities and paid at least 100 million shillings in taxes. Politics, security concerns In the aftermath of the evictions, miners said the President had betrayed them and he occasionally made verbal pledges that Mubende miners were safe and would continue to work without interference. John Bosco Bukya said that during the President’s state of the nation address of 2016, he had given them assurance that they were safe and would continue working. Following the evictions, the desperate miners said the president had all along been using them as political capital. Word of impending evictions came in early 2017 when there was a reported directive from the President for the miners to vacate the mines. On two occasions, the area Members of Parliament including Hon. Betty Namugwanya and Hon. Patrick Nsamba coordinated meetings to have the president visit the area and speak to miners but to no avail. Legally however; the miners save for those belonging to Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association who were already licensed, were not supposed to be occupying the mines. The then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr. Stephen Isabalijja claimed during a stormy session before the committee on natural resources in parliament that the miners posed a security threat and government had to act fast. Claims of wrong elements posing as miners had been rife. Indeed among the over 70 people arrested during the evictions that were seen by a legal team assembled by ActionAid Uganda, nearly all were found to be foreign nationals from neighbouring countries. Making a come back The evictions sparked outrage countrywide but unsurprisingly the President would give the miners an ear. The first attempt to meet him during an address on radio in Mubende flopped when he promised them a meeting at a more appropriate time. Indeed on September 26th 2017, the meeting happened at State House, Nakasero where security officials led by then Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura; energy ministry officials and miners’ representatives convened at what turned out to be a heated affair between the miners and representatives of AUC Mining Company. The company representatives were unrelenting and would not back down even when the President asked Moses Masagazi, a partner in AUC Mining company, to relinquish part of the area to the miners. It is reported that during the meeting, the company representatives claimed that they had to be compensated with Shs 2 billion for a 10 square kilometer area in Madudu Sub-county that had been proposed for relocation of the miners. As the technocrat on ground, Anthony Kinene disputed the claim, adducing proof that the proposed area was never part of that license. Following protracted negotiations, the President directed Hon. Irene Muloni, the Energy Minister that AUC Mining relinquishes 30% of their area to the miners. There was however a hitch, when it turned out that the letter was addressed to an unknown group of miners posing as the Federation of Artisanal Miners of Uganda. On investigation it was discovered the federation was in fact headed by the late Stella Njuba, daughter to Gertrude Njuba. Fresh Fight The miners, under their umbrella association, Mubende United Miners Association (MUMA) which brings together 21 associations had to put up a fresh fight, which however culminated into fresh negotiations and later concessions to share just 10% of the 30% because by now they were running low in energy and desperate to return to work. Gradually the miners started to make a breakthrough, with their major milestone being a meeting with the Operation Wealth Creation boss, and the president’s young brother Gen. Salim Saleh at Serene Hotel in Mutundwe. According to Bukya John Bosco, the meeting was very cordial and Gen. Saleh pledged that the miners would soon resume work. “We are now in advanced stages of receiving location licenses as members of MUMA; everything is in order now after we came to an understanding with the Federation,” the MUMA Chairperson Bukya John Bosco said. The negotiations through different power holders paid off as the miners were eventually granted permission to return to Kasanda district mining gold areas, specically in Katugo, Kitoma, and Nfuka all located in Kitumbi sub-county. They have secured 15 location licenses and expect about 15 more, which puts them in a safe position to resume mining legally. By Robert Mwesigye Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited By Didas Muhumuza

  • Panyimur, Nwoya residents’ tales of oil discovery impacts

     

  • Buliisa leaders want audience with President Museveni over oil impacts

     

    Ngwedo sub-county leaders voting on a compensation process for their properties during oil developments

    Buliisa district leaders resolved to seek audience with President Museveni to share their concerns regarding the oil and gas development impacts in their midst.

    They also want to lay strategies of reaping more benefits from the ongoing oil and gas developments.

    During a district dialogue engagement held on 20th February 2018 at the district headquarters, the leaders said they have a wide range of concerns over the oil industry which they want to discuss with the head of state.

    This followed sharing of numerous issues generated through a series of dialogues undertaken in the sub-counties and town council of Buliisa from throughout the month

    The district dialogue was thus a next step engagement that was supported by ActionAid Uganda and organized by Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organization (BIRUDO) and Lake Albert Children, Women Advocacy Development Organization (LACWADO) in partnership with Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO) and the civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas issues (CSCO). The issues shared generated a lot of debate and some recommendations.

    Challenges Faced in Buliisa

    There are many unresolved problems that were raised by local communities. For example, the Buliisa Sub-county Chairperson, Lt. (Rtd) Kubalirwa Nkuba said many residents have filed cases against oil companies operating in the district but the cases take long to be resolved thereby creating uncertainties.

    “This breeds anger and anxiety in the population, he said. Oil cases should be expeditiously handled by a special tribunal or court, he recommended.

    Mr. Julius Manyireki, a District Councilor representing people with disabilities said since oil was discovered in the district, several meetings have been held between locals and oil companies but despite this, issues raised remain persistent.

    The leaders unanimously agreed that matters affecting residents need to be brought to the attention of the President and seek his intervention sooner than later before conflicts on the ground get worse.

    The leaders decried the increasing cases of land grabbing, difficulty by locals to secure jobs and contracts in oil companies as well as irregularities in the process of compensating people whose land and properties are affected by oil and gas infrastructural projects.

    “We need a comprehensive skilling programme supported by Government and oil companies because our people need skills to join the oil industry,” said Isaac Nkuba, the Chairperson of Buliisa District NGO Forum.

    He shared that there is limited involvement and participation of local communities in decision making on matters regarding people’s livelihoods in relation to petroleum developments.

    He emphasized that, “the people are being left behind only to face impacts like poor compensation, lack of information, and threat to livelihood options among others”.

    He argued that many people feel alienated and this can easily result in confusion and conflicts thereby creating friction between the people and the oil developments.

    Regarding capacity building of local youth, he proposed the need for a deliberate Government programme of equipping existing schools in the district with equipment and science teachers who deserve a hard to stay allowance in order to motivate them to work comfortably in the district.

    Women’s Concerns

    Ms. Magdalena Namutebi, the Biiso Sub-county Councilor proposed a gender sensitive approach in handling oil matters.

    “The women have been sidelined. We need affirmative action,” she said. She called for an increased number of scholarships in oil courses to be awarded to girls and women to get entrepreneurship skills to enable them compete in oil businesses.

    Jane Akugizibwe concurred with Namutebi about the skilling approach.

    “Let us lobby oil companies and Government to set up a vocational training institute for women.Oil companies should also provide loans to women at low interest rates because many women are failing to pay back loans in commercial banks that have high interest rates,” Akugizibwe emphasised.

    Oil infrastructure

    The district will host one of the two oil Central Processing facilities (CPF) and infield pipelines that will evacuate crude oil from various oil fields located in the park and within the communities into the CPF. The feeder pipeline will also move from Buliisa district to Kabaale Parish in Hoima district where Government plans to set up a holding terminal for crude oil and an oil refinery among other infrastructure. Crude oil for export will be fed into an East African crude oil export pipeline which was launched in November, 2017 by President Museveni of Uganda and his Tanzanian counterpart President John Pombe Magufuli.

    Demands

    The Buliisa District Chairperson, Hon. Agaba Simon Kinene said leaders and project affected persons need Government support to visit oil producing countries for learning and sharing experiences. “We should position ourselves to tap the dollars that will accrue from the oil and gas production” he said.

    This can only happen if we get more exposed to how oil and gas undertakings operate and how local communities can be strategically linked to the same to enable them gain better benefits, he added.

    He asked oil companies and NGOs to regularly hold engagements with various stakeholders in the district for information sharing as well as creation of platforms for discussing issues openly thereby enabling consensus building.

    He pointed out that Buliisa district is highly impoverished despite being the host of huge oil resources. He thus requested that livelihood improvement programmes in the district need to be enhanced in order to improve the welfare of people affected by oil developments. This, according to him, will be very helpful in addressing many challenges that the people are facing and will enable management of their expectations overall.

    The District Chairman greatly appreciated the support by ActionAid for the dialogues that were organized from the Lower Local governments and linked the discussions with the Higher Local Government (district level).

    “I thank ActionAid for partnering with Government in a positive way”, said the Buliisa Resident District Commissioner  Mr. Peter Bisoborwa.

    He pointed out that there are many escalating land conflicts in the district and urged the people to revive their traditional justice system of resolving conflicts amicably instead of always rushing to court where challenges of case backlog and adjournments affect expeditious access to justice.

    While commenting on the proposal by leaders to meet the President, he advised that the District Council should sit with Members of parliament who hail from the district and make a joint write up which he will forward to the President’s office for further action.

    “Give me your resolution with reasons why you need to meet His Excellency and I will forward it” he said.

    He encouraged all participants to remain vigilant and play their part in ensuring that the oil and gas project is protected. He also pointed out that the government is committed to ensuring peaceful resolution of issues and that it is important for the people to maintain the peace in order for development to happen in Buliisa.

    Oil in Uganda correspondent, Bunyoro and Didas Muhumuza

    OilinUganda@actionaid.org

  • Buliisa residents demand affirmative action on land and property ownership

    Residents of the oil-rich Buliisa district have petitioned Government to implement for them an affirmative action programme intended to protect their land rights.

    During the different dialogues organized across seven sub-counties and one town council, with support from ActionAid Uganda, residents and their leaders decried the increased insecurity over land ownership ever since commercial oil reserves were discovered in the district.

    “Many speculators claiming customary land have come to Buliisa district ever since oil was discovered, we need Government protection over our own land” Mr Blasio Mugasa, a former Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom deputy Prime Minister told the meeting at Buliisa town Council.

    The Oil Central Processing Unit above (Courtesy photo)

    Majority of Buliisa communities have held land communally since time immemorial. However, the oil discovery in the rural district has attracted wealthy individuals who are processing communal land titles into private freehold titles.

    Oil infrastructure

    The district will host one of the two oil Central Processing facilities (CPF) and infield pipelines that will evacuate crude oil from various oil fields located in the park and within the communities into the CPF. The feeder pipeline will also move from Buliisa district to Kabaale Parish in Hoima district where Government plans to set up a holding terminal for crude oil and an oil refinery among other infrastructure. Crude oil for export will be fed into an East African crude oil export pipeline which was launched in November, 2017 by President Museveni of Uganda and his Tanzanian counterpart President John Pombe Magufuli.

     Land Rights

    Mr Moses Tumusiime, one of the project affected persons in Kasenyi village, Ngwedo sub-county (Buliisa district) the proposed site for the CPF said residents in the area are concerned that even before receiving compensation for their land and other properties, machines conducting studies for the CPF are already working on people’s lands.

    “Government should not disrespect our right to own property simply because it wants to achieve its oil projects”, Tumusiime said.

    “Whereas government can acquire our land for projects in public interest, we are entitled to prior, adequate and timely compensation as enshrined in the constitution. If oil companies do not respect our rights, we shall seek legal redress” said Gilbert Tibasiima the district youth councilor

    Sophia Kabonesa, a resident of Buliisa sub-county believes that oil companies should always negotiate for prices of land with respective land owners so that land for oil projects is acquired on willing buyer, willing seller basis.

    Government intervention

    An inter-ministerial team led by the lands Minister, Ms Betty Amongi visited Buliisa district in January this year and disclosed that compensation for an acre of land in Kasinyi village will be 3.5 million. In May last year, Government had announced a compensation rate of 2.1 million shillings per acre. The residents in Buliisa rejected the proposed price which they described as inadequate. They demanded 21 million shillings per acre, then.

    During dialogue engagements, residents in Buliisa asked for differing prices of land but majority preferred an acre of land to be acquired for between 10 to 60 million.

    The Buliisa District Community Development Officer, Mr. Bernard Barugahara said compensation rates for crops for the 2017/2018 financial year have already been communicated by the Chief Administrative officer (CAO) to the locals.

    He said disclosure for entitlements of project affected persons in Kasenyi village had commenced but there are several individuals and families that are already in conflict over land ownership and boundaries in the area.

    The dialogue process

    The Buliisa RDC Peter Bisoborwa closing the district dialogue(Photo by Buliisa correspondent)

    Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organization (BIRUDO) and Lake Albert Children, Women Advocacy Development Organisation (LACWADO) in partnership with Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO) and the civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas issues (CSCO), conducted community dialogues in Buliisa district on the policy and practice aspects in the oil and gas sector, under the support of ActionAid Uganda.

    The dialogues focused on the implications of the planned commercial oil production developments on people’s land and property ownership among other aspects. The engagements were conducted in sub-counties of Kigwera, Ngwedo, Buliisa, Butiaba, Biiso, Kihungya and Buliisa town council. The dialogues kicked off on 5th and ended on 12th February 2018.

    The engagements culminated into district level dialogue where key issues and recommendations generated from the lower local government level were shared with the various stakeholders at the district level for consideration and further escalation.

    The participants in the dialogues included subcounty Chairpersons, Sub-county Chiefs, Sub-county Councilors, L.C 1 Chairpersons, Religious Leaders, Members of the Area land committees, Members of the sub-county courts, representatives of Project affected persons, members of the civil society, elders, women, youth, people with disabilities (PWDs),  Local government technocrats, political leaders and security officers among others.

    The main objective of the dialogues was to discuss on the impacts induced by the oil and gas developments in Buliisa districts in the runner up to the development and production phases.

    ActionAid Uganda’s Extractives Governance Coordinator, Mr Didas Muhumuza said the engagements were meant to create a platform for all stakeholders to discuss issues pertaining to the oil and gas developments’ induced impacts that relate to land acquisition, resettlement and social sustainability aspects.

    “We are happy that stakeholders shared ideas on how best to engage and cause positive policy and practice changes so that local communities can have their problems addressed in good time” he said.

     

    The outcomes of the sub-county dialogue meetings will be used for advocacy and further engagement with decision makers at district and national level so that the concerns raised are duly addressed.

     

    Unanimous resolutions

    The residents unanimously asked Government to implement for them an action plan of registering their land and safeguarding their rights in the wake of oil and gas developments. They further asked Government and oil firms to disclose to them the land acquisition process, the road map of oil developments, the Resettlement Action Plans, social and environmental impact studies’ reports among other useful aspects. They asked for special dialogue engagements for the youth, women and people with disabilities at parish and sub-county levels to enable them access information about land acquisitions and petroleum developments. Residents demanded that the engagement processes should always be timely and continuous so that they get to know issues in good time. They applauded the dialogues for having enabled them to get to know issues they should have known much earlier but no one did prepare them in good time for the challenges ahead. The residents also asked ActionAid to train them in advocacy skills in the extractives sector and support them in the formation of an elder’s forum that will advise their leaders on handling conflicts and engagements in the oil sector. They further suggested that government does not acquire their land permanently but rather gets leases so that land owners can have an opportunity of reclaiming the land after oil is exhausted.                                                                                                                                                Oil in Uganda correspondent, Buliisa                                                                                                                   Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • We’ve been thrown in the oil shadows-Nwoya, Packwach, Nebbi District leaders speak out

    Mr Shaban Kinobe. LC3 chairman Panyimur Sub County reading a copy of oil in uganda magazine.This was during a meeting with ActionAid Uganda.Photo by Josephine Nabaale

    Got Apwoyo sub county is headquartered somewhere inside a tiny structure in Nwoya district, tucked behind the Gulu – Pakwach highway. Turning off at a trading centre is a small road that leads to the quiet two-roomed establishment.

    The trading centre, a product of one of the several Internally Displaced Camps during the wanted warlord, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in northern Uganda, is littered with grass thatched structures.

    The area is fairly cool, it’s the rainy season. Endless tracts of green vegetation are visible are along the highway. Expansive gardens of cereal are visible too. In the background of the sub county office is expansive maize garden. It looks healthy.

    The region, having not been cultivated for a long time during the insurgency, has very fertile soils. In fact there are agro-based companies cultivating on very large scale. But beneath the agricultural potential here, lie simmering emotions and a sense of hopelessness.

    Mr Openy Ben Latim, the LC3 chairperson Got Apwoyo sub county, is a very bitter man. Nwoya district lies in the Albertine region which harbours Uganda’s oil fields. Across the highway is the Murchison Falls National Park where Total E&P won production licences for oil and gas in the Exploration Area (EA1).

    Despite the proximity, Mr Openy is not optimistic at all and says the people are not happy. During the initial oil exploration in the park while prospecting for hydro carbons, locals and leaders did not know what was going on.

    “I don’t think we are going to benefit anything. Youth would come from Kampala to work here when we have our own. They used to bring everything from Kampala. Trucks used to bring vegetables for those people yet here we can grow vegetables,” Openy says in a bitter tone.

    The explanation that Nwoya district is part of government’s master plan for the oil sector – the standard gauge railway poised to run through the district, a network of roads in the park, feeder pipelines linking to the Central Processing Facility in Buliisa – does not offer any comfort.

    In fact, the mention of Buliisa irks him the more. “You see, everything happens in Nwoya but ends up in Buliisa,” he says.

    A story is told of how a group of locals once intercepted a truck that was leaving the park because they believed it was carrying crude oil. The truck was one of several that delivered suppliers then to the camps in the park during the exploration.

    At Anaka Sub County not far from Nwoya district headquarters, the sentiments are not any different.  Mr Opobo Geoffrey, the LC3 chairperson, said it was absurd that oil companies could not give their people simple jobs like security guards or drivers.

    “We do have those certified drivers here but they cannot get jobs there,” he said when asked if some of the locals were certified drivers.

    “We do not know anything that is going on there in the park. The only thing we know about Total is the scholarships some of our youth get. I so far have four students benefiting, but that is it,” he said.

    The now Pakwach was curved off Nebbi district. Mr Okumu Benson is the LC3 chairperson Pakwach Town Council. He too adds his voice saying they do not have information about the oil activities in the district.

    In the compound of the town council offices stands a Total – that now has a production licence for EA1 in Murchison Falls – branded notice board. Also a Total branded ‘suggestion box’ is pinned on the main administration block. Mr Okumu says the oil company occasionally pins up general information about developments in the sector but locals interpret it otherwise.

    “They usually find their way to the camps and claim they advertised jobs. We wonder where they get that information but it’s because people are desperate. Sometimes they accuse us of hiding oil jobs from them,” Okumu says.

    Mr Aguta Jimmy Frank, the Pakwach town clerk, says because of lack of information has misled people. During the exploration stage there was a wide spread problem of land speculation in the Albertine region because of oil.

    “People here sold their land at giveaway prices to speculators. Our people were taken advantage of and now they blame the government,” Mr Aguta says.  Expectations remain high now that production phase is upon the country. Chairman Okum says they were told at a workshop in Kampala that 13,000 jobs would be created for Ugandans. But there is a catch.

    Not all about oil

    “This is the time to seize opportunities in the oil sector,” Paul Tumwebaze of Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas once told a youth workshop in Masindi.  This is a statement that has countless times resonated at numerous oil and gas workshops, the media and conferences under the flagship of ‘local content’.

    Whereas several Ugandans have pinned hopes on oil since prospecting started industry stakeholders advise about the immense opportunities available to feed off the value chain of the sector.

    While meeting local government leaders, all of whom have been mentioned above, Didas Muhumuza, the ActionAid Extractives Governance project manager, who has immense knowledge of the sector as well, passed on the same message.

    Specifically rallying for the inclusion of youth in accountable governance of the oil and gas sector, he reiterated that the industry will not absorb every Ugandan looking to join the sector.

    “The decisions government is taking now as we enter the production phase were informed from what has been gathered since exploration started. There is nothing we can change now, but can work within the existing infrastructure,” Muhumuza told the meeting at Got Apwoyo Sub County.

    Chairman Openy had endlessly lamented that Nwoya was being sidelined, wondering why the oil pipeline network that will be draining in the Central Processing Facility should be located in Buliisa. Mr Muhumuza was at pains to explain that because Murchison Falls is a protected area much of the activity could not take place there.

    While many of the leaders lamented their youth were not equipped to position themselves for opportunities through skilling and training, there are organisations like the GIZ-funded Skilling Uganda that are offering these opportunities. The programme is targeting to skill 8,000 youth in welding, driving, carpentry, electrical which will be on high demand during the production phase.

    ActionAid Uganda under the Extractives Governance is rolling out a two-year Ford Foundation supported intervention to sensitise youth and build their capacity to gain an understanding of the extractives sector and use their knowledge to engage state and corporate actors in the accountable management of the sector. The project focuses on four Albertine districts of Hoima, Buliisa, Nwoya, Nebbi; and Mubende district.

    Fortunately some of the leaders are not hopelessly waiting for the magic bullet. Mr Shaban Kinobe. LC3 chairman Panyimur Sub County said everyone is looking at oil whereas opportunities are abound in the value chain. Many of the leaders however expressed optimism about the new project, “People in Power; Influencing People in Power.

    Robert Mwesigye

    Oil.Uganda”actionaid.org

     

  • President Museveni orders eviction of Mubende gold miners; sends the miners in panick

    About 50,000 artisanal miners and leaders in Mubende district are in fear and panic following President Museveni’s order directing them to vacate areas which Government licensed to investors.

    “We are in shock that the President can approve the eviction without him coming down to hear our side of the story” says Mr Ivan Kauma Male, a project coordinator of the Singo Artisanal and Small scale miners Association (SASMA).

    Mr Male, a Makerere University graduate in Electrical Engineering says it is unfair for government to evict thousands of artisanal miners who are gainfully employed and who are contributing to national development.

    “This demonstrates that government has no will to support people who are struggling to earn a living in such an industry” says Male, who claims to have invested over Shs370 million in the mines in the past three years.

    The artisanal miners have asked Government to atleast give them a grace period of up to one year before evicting them.

    In a letter dated June 28th 2017 addressed to Members of Parliament from Mubende district, President Museveni directed that those who invaded where the investor had made excavations must straight away get out.

    “The investor is there to help us to know whether there is gold and, if so, how much of it. Why should anybody interfere with this?” President Museveni wrote to law makers from the gold-rich district.

    Oil in Uganda has confirmed that there have been back and forth negotiations between the artisanal miners, local leaders, investors and key officials from the central Government.

    The Mubende district Woman Member of parliament Benny Bugembe Namugwanya confirmed that area MPs authored a petition to the President on June 16th 2017.

    The petition requested the President to give artisanal miners more time before being evicted. The leaders also want government to grant location licenses to the artisanal miners who reportedly applied for them early last year in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines.

    “I agree to give ample time to the artisans in Mubende. That is no problem. The bigger issue is to keep in mind what we talked about in the meeting” the President said.

    The President compared the minerals to a family banana plantation where by children of the family or any other family members do not cut immature bananas. Even where the bananas mature, it is the head of the family in this case Government, to determine how much bunches should be cut by whom and when.

    “The ample time we talked about should be in portions that are away from where the investor had gone to work” Museveni said in a one-page letter which oil in Uganda has seen.

    The Present’s letter is copied to the Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, the Defence and Veteran affairs minister Adolf Mwesige and Irene Muloni, the Energy and Mineral Development Minister.

    However the Bukuya County Member of parliament Dr Michael Bukenya claimed that the Presidential directive seems to be contrary to the President’s stand on artisanal miners which he stated in the 2016 presidential campaigns and the 2017 state of the nation address.

    “The president acknowledged artisanal miners and promised that Government would grant them licenses”, says Mr Bukenya who represents the gold-rich constituency in Uganda’s tenth parliament.

    “Instead of Government making steps to regularize the artisanal miners by granting them location licensees”, Bukenya adds, “artisanal miners are being threatened with eviction.”

    He says artisanal mining in his constituency has stimulated economic growth, increased the local purchasing power, prevented rural-urban migration and created employment for thousands of people.

    According to Dr Bukenya, local leaders are seeking audience with the Chief of Defence Forces, the Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the President to explain the need to stay the eviction.

  • President’s envoy disappoints Mubende gold miners, fails to turn up for the long awaited reconciliatory meeting

    President’s envoy disappoints Mubende gold miners, fails to turn up for the long awaited  reconciliatory meeting

    Mubende artisanal miners that had come to attend the meeting with the President’s advisor on Land. Photo by Josephine Nabbaale

    Thousands of artisanal miners that had gathered at lujinji mining site in Mubende district to meet the presidential advisor on land matters left the venue disappointed over her failure to show up.

    According to Mr Sempowo Robert chairman Mubende artisanal miners, they secured this appointment with Ms Kiconco flora, the legal presidential advisor of land so that they could be able to show her the area currently occupied by the artisanal miners, how miners operate in this area, equipments being used by miners, how many miners are operating in this area, to win her support towards an end to a possible eviction of the miners by the President.

    Earlier in the same month July, the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni allegedly issued a presidential directive to have over 500 artisan gold  miners displaced from the mining area of mubende in favour of Gemstones International mining company. This company holds the location license for the area, but had allowed the artisan miners to operate alongside them in this same area, from which they derive a livelihood. This however has since changed. Worried that the miners may encroach on all the gold, they reportedly sought government’s protection to retain back all their land for which they hold a license. Government officials, majority from the Ministry of Energy advised the president accordingly, who in turn ordered for their vacating.

    These miners that gathered up from 7:30am in the morning on Thursday 13th April,  left three hours into waiting disappointed after an official communication that the presidential advisor was not to turn up, because she was caught up with state work therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.

    Mr Lukwago Peter one of the miners expressed disappointment: “We have been forced to suspend our work because we are law abiding citizens that need to stream line the course of our work. We really need government to listen to our side of the story other than favouring one investor, a move that has left us jobless.”

    Lukwago added that the news about the presidential directive of eviction left them in fear.

    “Few people go into the pits in search for gold. Few people are buying new stuff for their shops. Business is no longer booming because we can’t invest much capital for fear of being chased away from the mines,” he said.

    Mr Senkusu Edward, the community development officer Kitumbi sub county explained that;” we have received a communication from the presidential advisor that she won’t be able to appear for the meeting because she is caught up with other state matters therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.”

    The presence of potential gold deposits in Kasanda Sub County in Mubende district was first discovered by the British colonial government in the 1920s. Then, in the late 1990s, regular visits by potential investors with big plans alerted locals to the existence of a valuable mineral in their midst, and soon Ugandans from other parts of the country were flocking  the area to start small-scale operations as illegal miners. Many people who were previously unemployed or underemployed from the streets of Kampala and from as far Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda have continued to come into this area. This has led to an impromptu gold rush with miners, washers, middlemen, buyers and exporters.

    The area houses men, children and women who utterly derive their livelihood from artisan gold mining.  These insist that they applied for a location license two years ago, when they learnt of the expiry of Gemstone’s first license. They however did not receive it, but Gemstone did again.

  • Rwamutonga families to be re-evicted; Masindi court has ordered

    Rwamutonga displaced residents shortly after the return to their homes on the land from which they had been evicted in 2014. Photo by Francis Mugerwa.

    Hoima

    Masindi High Court has cleared another eviction for families in Rwamutonga village, Hoima district, where a US firm wanted to set up an oil waste treatment plant.

    An order dated April 4th 2017 signed by the assistant registrar Acio Julia cleared Ochika Julius, a court bailiff, to give vacant possession of the land to Tibagwa Joshua and Kusiima Robinah and to demolish any illegal structures on the land.

    The land is on certificate titles under VRF 10521, Folio 6, Block 44 measuring 103.553 hectares located at Rwamutonga village, Katanga parish, Bugambe sub-county in Buhaguzi County.

    “Whereas the above mentioned land is in possession of Abwoli Mukubwa Beatrice, Uromacan Martin, Ausenge Petero, Onita Quinto, Latim Alex, the applicants, their relatives, agents or servants was decreed to Tibagwa Joshua and Kusiima Robinah,” the order reads in part.

    “You are hereby directed to put Tibagwa Joshua and Kusiima Robinah in possession of the same and authorized to remove any property/persons bound by this decree that may refuse to vacate the same,” the order stated.

    The order, which was kept a secret from the families facing eviction, became known on April 20th when it was served to Hoima district security committee members.

    The order has sparked tension and fear among the families who were evicted from the same land on August 25th 2014.

    The families that lived in a makeshift camp near the land for about three years returned to the land in March this year (2017)after being permitted by Robert Bansigaraho who is in a land dispute with Joshua Tibagwa.

    IGP clears eviction

    In a letter dated April 19th, addressed to the Albertine regional police commander, the office of the Inspector General of Police cleared the eviction.

    “The purpose of this letter is for you to comply with the court order. If any person feels aggrieved by the court order, the remedy is to appeal or cause review of the matter at hand,” Nairuba Diana, an official in the Police’s Legal department wrote for the IGP.

    According to Nairuba, the applicants applied for a review of the court order which was clearly denied by the learned judge. The trial judge was Justice Simon Byabakama who has since been appointed Uganda’s Electoral Commission chairman.

    “A court order is a court order and cannot be replaced by an administrative decision, thus be advised to comply with the order as guided by the commandant land protection unit in the attached forwarding letter,” the letter referenced PLS 62/211/01/VOL 56 read.

    Mr Atich Nelson, LC111 Chairman Rwamutonga village talks to ActionAid’s Extractives Project Officer Flavia Nalubega during a visit to the displaced persons in Rwamutonga. Photo by Francis Mugerwa.

    Prime Minister had blocked eviction

    The Prime Minister’s office had previously blocked the eviction of the families. This was directed in a letter dated March 6th 2017 signed by the First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali and addressed to the Albertine regional police commander Police:

    “Please ensure that no eviction takes place, with a view of enhancing peace and tranquility. By a copy of this letter, the minister of internal affairs is hereby informed and so is the Inspector General of Police (IGP),” stated Ali who is also a deputy leader of Government business in parliament.

    Gen Ali reminded police about the ruling at Masindi High Court in which Justice Simon Byabakama declared their eviction as wrongful on October 22nd 2015.

    Judge petitioned to halt eviction

    The centre manager at Justice Centres Uganda, Mr. Tiyo Jonathan, wrote on April 21st 2017 to the Masindi resident judge asking him to exercise his supervisory powers and halt the execution of the eviction and investigate anomalies in the court process.

    He said the bailiff had been directed to put Tibagwa and Kusiima in possession of the land from where the families were wrongfully evicted.

    He stated that the lawyers are preparing to file an application for a judicial review to quash the warrant and prohibit the intended execution so as not to cause injustice and inconvenience to the families.

    Much as the eviction has not yet taken place, it can be executed anytime from now. The eviction order will expire on May 4th 2017.

    Rwamutonga displaced residents shortly after the return to their homes on the land from which they had been displaced in 2014. Photo by Francis Mugerwa

    Background

    Robert Bansigaraho who in 2014 entered into a consent judgment and surrendered his title covering 103 hectares to Tibagwa has since withdrawn from the deal and allied with the families.

    He argues that the families have suffered enough as a result of displacement which prompted him to allow them back on the land.

    Mr. Tibagwa sued Mr. Bansigaraho accusing him of grabbing his land. However in a turn of events, Mr. Bansigaraho entered into a consent judgment with Mr. Tibagwa in September 2013 in which Bansigaraho surrendered a title covering 103 hectares to Mr. Tibagwa.

    Mr. Bansigaraho, however, says he regained his land after Mr. Tibagwa failing to give him an alternative 350-acre piece of land, compensating squatters and fully compensating him.

    Mr. Tibagwa insists that Mr. Bansigaraho surrendered to him his title and signed the title transfer forms.

    Mr. Tibagwa consequently applied to court for an eviction order to evict Mr. Bansigaraho and occupants of the land which he obtained in July 2014. The over 250 families were then evicted in august 2014. The eviction was later declared unlawful and should not have happened in the first place, Masindi High Court ruled.

    By Oil in Uganda Correspondent, Hoima

    Oil.uganda@actionaid.org