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CSOs demand environmental conservation in Albertine region

FILE PHOTO: An oil rig in the Lake Albert region

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Civil Society Organizations operating in the oil-rich Albertine Graben are demanding for consistent efforts aimed at protecting the environment in the light of oil and gas exploration and production in the region.

According to the CSOs, oil companies operating in the region have not done much in conserving the environment yet their activities are a danger to the environment.

They say the government and the oil companies must put in place specific measures such as defining critical habitats which should be placed off-limits to oil and gas developments for long term conservation and associated local livelihoods.

Nassa Biira Kiwanuka, the Executive director Midwestern Anti-Corruption Coalition-MIRAC says the oil companies have not put in place any restoration measures aimed at recovering the trees that were cut down in various parts of the Albertine Graben as part of the oil and gas activities.

Jennifer Baitwamasa, from Navigators for Development Association-NAVODA says that oil activities are going on in protected areas such as forest reserves, lakes, swamps and game reserves among others.

She cites thousands of trees that were cut down to pave way for the construction of Hoima International Airport in Kabale parish Buseruka Sub County by SBC.

Suzan Asinguza, from African Institute for energy governance-AFIEGO, says Environmental Management Assessments, Environmental sensitivity mapping and Environmental and social impact assessments should be effectively implemented.

She further wants the government and the oil companies to ensure that the public have access to Environmental and social Impact Assessments-ESIA information and in a easy manner.

Pius Wakabi, the Bugahya County Member of Parliament says that oil companies must be at the forefront of tree planting in the region because oil production comes with massive destruction of Environment that needs to be treated with proper attention.

The CSO’s demands come at a time when the government through the Petroleum Authority of Uganda-PAU is organizing public hearings for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report for the proposed Kingfisher development project scheduled for Wednesday and Friday this week in Kikuube and Hoima districts respectively.

The Kingfisher Development project refers to the oil production infrastructure to be established within Buhuka parish along the south-Eastern side of Lake Albert in Kikuube district.

The project forms part of the wider oil and gas development being undertaken in the Albertine Graben.

The project will be funded by CNOOC Uganda Limited, Total exploration and production Uganda, Tullow Uganda operations pty limited and Uganda National Oil Company-UNOC.

Government in 2012 awarded a production license to CNOOC Uganda limited to develop and operate petroleum facilities for the Kingfisher development project.

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