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Tilenga Project: Acholi, Bunyoro demand protection of cultural sites

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Cultural institutions in Acholi and Bunyoro sub regions are calling for protection of their heritage inside Murchison Falls National Park as Uganda moves into the development of oil production facilities.

The two kingdoms say that they possess valuable cultural sites and heritage materials inside the National park, through which the Petroleum Authority of Uganda is set to develop oil infrastructures.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda plans to develop six production oil fields under the Tilenga Project in Buliisa and Nwoya districts in which 400 wells will be drilled from 34 well pad locations to evacuate crude oil to the Central Professing Facility or Refinery in Buliisa.

But Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi Cultural Institution, says some of the heritage sites are shrines where annual rituals are performed. He says losing such heritage alongside the environment will negatively impact the identity of the people in the area.

Olaa says that the National Environment Management Authority – NEMA should team up with The Petroleum Authority of Uganda to relocate some of the sites before they are intruded into by oil infrastructure developments.

According to Olaa, the Kingdoms fear that Uganda might lose its great tourism potential in the narrow Murchison Falls enclave where the entire volume of the Nile is constricted through rock junctures plunging down several meters deep. It was here that Acholi chiefs and the Omukama of Bunyoro held their meetings to plan on security and relationship issues, he said.

Olaa explains that several cultural sites are dotted inside the park including Wang Latong, the historical spot where the two brothers Labongo and Gipir separated in the fable of the Luo Migration.

The kingdoms have submitted a detailed guideline for preservation and relocation of the cultural sites to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda and National Environment Management Authority NEMA.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda says in the Environment Impact Assessment of the Tilenga project that it has already developed the Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Management Plan to take care of historical sites and cultural heritage in homes and communities.

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