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‘No to Oil Drilling’: Ugandan Environmentalists to Museveni

FILE -Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, talks to workers from COSL and the CNOO , Jan 24, 2023
FILE -Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, talks to workers from COSL and the CNOO , Jan 24, 2023

Ugandan critics argue President Yoweri Museveni’s administration is going to damage the environment and impede on wildlife migration when the East African nation begins to drill its first oil wells.

Ugandan authorities and their oil partnering companies, France TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation recently announced that the process of assembling machinery for exploration has begun.

The East African nation’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) said the Chinese corporation will drill three oil wells on the shores of Lake Albert and the French will drill 16 wells by Murchison Falls National Park.

The oil companies released an environmental impact and assessment report in 2018 that identified 32 potential risks to humans and wildlife, however NEMA insists that adequate mitigation measures have been put in place to protect biodiversity.

Alex Male Nsereko, Total’s superintended for drilling pads echoed NEMA’s sentiments.

“There are several measures that we take. We don’t drive fast. We have changed the color of our vehicles to match the environment,” said Nsereko.

“They are unintimidating. We have monitors. All vehicles have speed monitoring. We have low noise production from our generators and equipment,” he added.

Wilson Kagoro, a conversation officer under Uganda’s Wildlife Authority said his organization is closely monitoring oil exploration activities.

“In terms of biodiversity, we have quite a number of animals. Actually, Murchison is one of the best parks that we have in Uganda and is highly visited,” said Kagoro.

“And so, this is a hot spot for most of the animals. On one spot, you can even see more than ten species of animals. So, we have ensured that Total and all the other partners ensure that they follow the park rules and regulations.

Dickens Kamugisha, the chief executive officer of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance said NEMA’s approval was premature.

“And they were supposed to come up with clear mitigation plans. Unfortunately, NEMA went ahead to approve that assessment without the mitigation plans,” said Kamugisha.

“Up to now we are not sure if you are talking about doing these roads, conducting those activities in Murchison Falls,” he added.