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Bunyoro kingdom calls for protection of cultural sites in Albertine graben

FILE PHOTO: Oil exploration in the Albertian region

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom is demanding the preservation and protection of all cultural Heritage sites in areas where oil and gas activities are taking place.

Bunyoro Culture Minister Hajji Bruhani Kyokuhaire said that a number of sites are threatened, yet there is no deliberate effort to guarantee their protection in the rush for oil. He cited the royal tombs, shrines, the Royal Mile, the burial grounds, Omukama’s hunting grounds, Fort and caves, Hills and, fishing grounds in the districts of Buliisa, Hoima and Kikuube.

Kyokuhaire was speaking at a public hearing for the kingfisher Environmental and social Impact Assessment-ESIA report at Rwemisanga Primary School, Kikuube district on Wednesday. The public hearings are meant to collect views and opinions on what is expected in order to enrich the ESIA report during the review process.

“We demand for proper protection and preservation of all the Kingdom Cultural Heritage sites that exist in areas where oil and gas activities are taking places,” Kyokuhaire said. He equally emphasized the need for the protection of the cultural norms and values of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom by companies operating in the region.

Kyokuhaire also demanded the preservation and protection of natural resources within the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. He says a number of forest reserves, rivers, lakes and swamps that have been jealously preserved by the kingdom for centuries should remain intact.

Buhaguzi County Member of Parliament Daniel Muhairwe observed that a number of land grabbers and speculators have invaded Bunyoro region, where they are evicting residents from their land and encroaching on gazetted natural resources.   Muhairwe observed a need for training to enable officers to make informed Environmental Impact Assessment on matters concerning the environment in the Oil and Gas sector.

A number of the residents who attended the meeting faulted companies for not doing enough to promote environmental conservation, yet their activities are posing a great danger to environment and biodiversity. One of them, Fred Kaahwa said farmers should be supported to deal with the challenges that oil exploration brings to their activities.

Peninah Aheebwa, the director Technical Support Services at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda says the National oil and gas policy of 2008 requires that oil and gas activities are undertaken in a manner that conserves the environment and biodiversity.

Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Robert Kasande told the gathering that the ministry has carried out sensitivity mapping of the Albertine Graben and a strategic environment Assessment and found out that they cannot proceed with oil activities when they have not Addressed the issues of environmental protection.

Kasande says significant progress has been made in taking forward the key projects that will lead to the first oil.

Cwiyu jun, the Vice President of CNOOC Uganda rubbished claims that some of the oil is being silently drilled and taken to the European markets.

CNOOC Uganda is the lead operator of the Kingfisher oil field. Total E&P and Tullow Uganda and CNOOC Uganda are joint venture partners in Uganda’s oil and gas sector.

The oil companies plan to set up a number of facilities in Buhuka parish in Kikuube to extract oil from the Kingfisher fields. They include a central processing facility (CPF), four well pads holding 31 production and water injection wells, an airstrip, jetty, construction material yard and camps and access roads.

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