By Tugume Johnbosco, Hoima
The formation of the national plan focusing on putting in mechanisms to prevent and manage any oil spillage is in final stages, government has revealed.
Dubbed the National Oil Spill Contingent Plan, it focuses on putting in place measures to avoid an oil spillage, detection and response measures ahead of the oil production phase.
Addressing local leaders from the Albertine region in a consultative meeting at Kontiki hotel in Hoima district on Wednesday, the Assistant Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness in the Prime Minister’s office, Gerald Menha said the plan is in its final stages.
He revealed that they are consulting stakeholders to seek their views before a final one is produced and approved.
According to him, the plan which outlines roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder right from the village level is in final stages and will be ready by next year.
Mr. Menha explained that they cannot rule out that the spillage will not occur but what is important is to put in place measures to manage it.
“We cannot afford just to keep on because we know once we are in this volatile activity of oil exploration, transportation and storage, the chances are almost 90 to 100 percent that there will be accidents and therefore we need to prepare the population to mitigate and respond to disasters caused by oil spillage,” said Menha.
He cited few provisions in the plan, including the requirement for oil companies to ensure safe transportation of oil, be it on the lake, through the pipeline or by train.
National Environment Management Authority’s Deputy Executive Director, Christine Echookit Akello said the plan is being spearheaded by the government agencies including NEMA, Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
However, Hoima district Health and Education Secretary, James Mugenyi Mulindambura described the initiative as a good move but expressed concern over the poor implementation of laws by Ugandans.
Mr. Mulindambura called for mass sensitization against bush burning saying Banyoro culturally set wild fires during dry seasons while hunting.
Nwoya district LC5 Chairman, Patrick Okello Oryema faulted government for locating most of the oil facilities in one district saying in case of any disaster, the damage may be too big than when those facilities would have been scattered.
He also challenged government to put in place high technology systems of monitoring the underground crude pipeline in the district.
Research shows that Uganda’s oil reserves are estimated to be at around 6.5 billion barrels, with only about 1.6 billion of that oil recoverable.
The world has recorded numerous oil spills, the last being the Gulf oil spill which occurred when the Deep water Horizon oil rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, 2010.