Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Persons with Disabilities-PWDs are demanding active engagement and participation in the Oil and gas sector. They argue that while different groups have been engaged, the government and oil companies have not taken any initiative to support persons with disabilities to tap into opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Currently, the government and oil companies are implementing several Infrastructure and environmental social Impact studies in preparation for the first barrel of oil expected by 2022. Part of the ongoing works includes the construction of an airport in Buseruka, studies on the East African Crude Export Pipeline, construction of the oil refinery and development of oil roads.
But Gilbert Bigirwenkya, the programs coordinator for Hoima District Union of Persons with Disabilities explains that none of the projects has catered for their interests, yet no project has been initiated to purposely target persons with Disabilities.
The chairperson of Kikuube women council Edith Barungi says that there must be a deliberate effort to strengthen the economic status of PWDs through the available government projects.
Ruhunga Parish PWDs councillor Asinance Katwesige observes a need for special consideration in the award of education scholarships to learners in Bunyoro. She says physically handicapped children have not benefited from the Bursaries awarded by the oil companies in the Albertine Graben.
Ronald Kaija, the Community Relations Supervisor at CNOOC Uganda Limited, one of the largest oil and gas companies in Uganda’s energy sector says companies are undertaking a number of initiatives to ensure that all Ugandans including those with disabilities tap into opportunities in the sector.
However, Hoima District Community Development Officer Isaac Bitamale challenged PWDs to embrace government initiatives designed to guarantee economic empowerment for various groups.
Kennedy Mugume, the programs officer at Global Rights Alert says the government should challenge itself to ensure that no one is left behind in the development of oil and Gas. He implores persons with disabilities to form developmental groups in order to benefit from government projects.