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Waste dumping incident exposes ugly side of local content

Area Chairman Eriakimi Kasegu

Area Chairman Eriakimi Kasegu

A bizarre incident in which a local contractor dumped two truckloads of human waste in a village in Buliisa District has exposed the vulnerability of communities in oil-producing areas, but also demonstrated the potential downside of employing local companies in Uganda’s nascent oil and gas industry.  

Residents of Kisiimo village woke up to a nasty stench on Wednesday morning last week, after human waste that was destined to a waste disposal facility in Nakasongola District over one hundred kilometres away, was dumped in their area.

According to the area Local Council Chairman, Eriakimi Kasegu, two lorries were seen dumping the waste, just two kilometres from Buliisa town, on Tuesday night at around 8 p.m.

“On Wednesday morning, the smell was unbearable and people started complaining,” he told Oil in Uganda.

Oil in Uganda has established that this despicable act was done by a local contractor, Luma Peter and Sons, who had been hired by Saracen, a private security firm, to transport the waste from one of its camps in Buliisa.

Part of the waste that was dumped

Part of the waste 

According to the Saracen Managing Director, Bill Bauser, his company paid five thousand dollars to Lamu Peter and Sons to transport the waste to a disposal facility in Nakasongola, but the contractor chose to dump it in the village.

“The sub-contractor we have been working with tried to use tricks and instead of taking the waste to Nakasongola, they dumped it in Buliisa,” he told Oil in Uganda.

Mr. Bauser observed that such practices demonstrate some local companies’ unwillingness  to adhere to the strict standards required by the oil industry.

“If we are not careful, local content will ruin everything,” he noted. “If we want to explore the opportunity the Ugandan government is advocating for in terms of local content, then we should be ready to take the steps and meet the deliverables as per contracts signed with these oil companies,” he said.

Misdirected anger

Mr. Bauser was quick to exonerate his client towards whom the villagers’ anger has been directed since the incident.

“It is not Tullow’s fault that this happened,” he explained.

In an e-mail response to Oil in Uganda, Tullow’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Cathy Adengo, clarified that the waste was not from a Tullow camp.

“The waste collected was only from the Saracen camp. Not a Tullow camp,” she wrote, adding that it was unfortunate the contractors did not follow the rightful process in disposing the waste.

An exposed patch of land after the waste was removed

An exposed patch of land after the waste was removed

Naomi Karekaho, the Public Relations Officer at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) seemed equally shocked at the incident, which she described as unique.

“In this case, all that can be done is for the contractor and the service provider to resolve the issue amicably, apologize to the community and clean up the area,” she told Oil in Uganda.

Indeed this is what was done. Photographs of the area obtained by Oil in Uganda confirm the waste was removed, but the residents remain bitter.

All efforts to get a comment from Luma Peter and Sons were unsuccessful.

Report by BO