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Bunyoro leaders demand for more

The King of Bunyoro, His Majesty Solomon Gafabusa Iguru displays a precious stone. The Kingdom hopes to use royalties to boost household incomes in the Region (Photo: Francis Mugerwa)

The King of Bunyoro, His Majesty Solomon Gafabusa Iguru displays a precious stone. The Kingdom hopes to use royalties to boost household incomes in the Region (Photo: Francis Mugerwa)

Leaders from the oil-rich Bunyoro Kingdom want Parliament to review the recently-passed oil laws and include clauses that will empower the Kingdom and people in the region to realise economic benefits from the exploitation of oil and gas resources.

At a stakeholder engagement meeting that was called by the oil companies with support of government in Hoima last week, the leaders argued that the current legal regime does not offer the Kingdom enough opportunities in the sector. They want the newly passed Public Finance Management Act to be revised to increase the percentage of oil royalties that was proposed for the Kingdom in the law.

“Our King went up to Parliament and submitted our application for 12.5% of the royalties; while we appreciate the 1% that was given to us, sincerely it was too little compared to what we demanded for,” said the King’s Masindi Municipality County Chief, Frank Businge.

The Kingdom officials argue that people in Bunyoro will be most affected by the social and environmental impacts of the oil industry compared to other regions.

Compensation

The Kingdom’s Land Supervisor, Joseph Twegonze advised the government and oil companies to include the Kingdom in all compensation exercises in Bunyoro given that the King is the cultural custodian of all he land in the Kingdom.  “The constitution recognizes him as a trustee but when it comes to compensation, you do not consider him even when some of your operations have affected our cultural and historical sites,” he said.

The Kingdom has repeatedly sought for compensation for one of their historical sites, Waraga a former King’s palace located on the shores of Lake Albert, that was destroyed during oil exploration in 2006 by Hardman Resources, but with no success.

Tullow Oil’s Social Performance Advisor, Didas Muhumuza, however told the meeting that the company remains sensitive to the culture of the communities where it operates and will continue to support cultural perseveration and enhancement.

For the last two years, oil companies and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development have been holding engagements with communities in the oil producing areas to brief stakeholders about their operations. The companies separately interface with political and religious leaders, civil society, the private sector, youth and women leaders from the districts of Hoima, Buliisa, Masindi, Kibaale and Kiryandongo. This current exercise started on 26th May 2015 and will run until Thursday this week.

Report by Oil in Uganda Staff

editor@oiliuganda.org