While the discovery of oil and gas in the Albertine has raised fear of a likely resource curse , some residents in Hoima and Buliisa districts say they are witnessing some transformation even before oil comes out of the ground.
The runway at Hoima's Kabaale International Airport. Bunyoros districts have begun to reap benefits from instructures being constructed for oil and gas development in the Albertine
The discovery of oil in the Albertine is altering the socioeconomic profile of a once-sleepy town of Hoima now dubbed
as oil city.
While the discovery of oil in Albertine have raised fear of a likely resource curse , some
residents in Hoima and Buliisa districts say they are witnessing some transformation even before oil comes out of the ground.
The urban landscape especially in Hoima city has undergone
rapid changes, including the influx of migrants.
For Hoima’s ambitious
new entrepreneurs like Peter Mayanja, there is opportunity here.
"Everyone is going to gain"
sure that everybody is going to enjoy from this oil and the developments which
are coming in” says Mayanja, a real estate dealer and owner of Farm Bridge
“I don’t know where
people are coming from. People are
renting houses. It can take you a week to find a house for rent. Lots of houses
are being constructed but they are booked”
is getting difficult to find a plot of land mostly in the center of Hoima city reveals
Mayanja, whose office is located in former slum Kiryatete.
“In fact here in Kiryatete
has been a slum. People are boozing so much. Finding a house here for buying it
can be hard. But in case you find one you must carry three hundred million shillings." he said
oil was discovered in 2006, Hoima had just a handful of hotels from the likes
of Kolping and Nsamo Hotels. Big hotels like Miika resort, Kontiki and Hoima
resort are up and running way before oil taps open.
Kojo, the founder of Kontiki Hotel lagrees
that the discovery oil for Hoima has brought fortune to Hoima and Bunyoro.
“I think it is because of oil why we have a number of building and hotels Hoima. It is also possible that they
are speculating for the oil industry. I think and believe that oil is not
going to be a curse for Hoima” says Kojo whose hotel located about three kilometers out of Homa has been popular
destination for expatriate oil and gas workers because of meeting the so called oil and gas standards.
the roads leading Total’s Tilenga Project in Buliisa and CNOOC’s Kingfisher in Kikuube,
billboards advertise plots of land. One of those offers five acres of land
going for 700 million shillings.
Buliisa District Chairperson, Fred Lukumu, oil and gas has ushered in
development and more is expected. Patients don’t have to take an 82-kilometer
journey to Hoima thanks to a general hospital constructed by Tullow Oil
“They helped us. At
least we now have one general hospital. Although very under facilitated. It is
overwhelmed by the high number of patients. Given that there is a lot of influx
of immigrants in Buliisa especially with now oil sector booming” said Lukumu
Fred Lukumu is asking the government and the oil companies for more in form of a
“We need to help our people to get preliminary elementary
skills. Otherwise we don’t have even welders here. We don’t even have people to
work with private companies employed here” said Lukumu
Some years back, the road
from Hoima to Buliisa was dusty with no layer of tarmac, Buliisa District
Resident Commissioner, Ahebwa Longino Byagagaire said it can be accessed from
all directions thanks to the “Oil roads”
“From Hoima, Butiaba-Wanseko,
they are tarmacking a-111 kilometer road. Then we have one connecting from
Biiso to Masindi which 43 kilometers, and there one from Kisanja to Masindi
through the park to Para. Government also gave us 9.9 kilometers of tarmac with
in our town council” said Byagagaire
“Almost eighty percent of Murchison Falls National Park is
within Buliisa district. to cross Murchison Falls across the Nile used to be a ferry but
now they put a bridge. So when you are
crossing to West Nile, you cross with your car” he added.
While some residents
of Bulisa have not physically touched oil money, some feel a lot has changed.
the way Buliisa was looking like before the oil exploration is not the way it
is looking like today. Because it would take us over two hours to travel a
distance of about 45 kilometers to Hoima but now it takes thirty minutes or less”
said Zephaniah Eikiriza is a resident in Biso township. “I will not say I have
seen the oil directly but now I have started seeing the signs of the oil which
was found in Buliisa” he adds
Before oil was discovered in the Albert area, Buliisa
used to face attacks from suspected criminals crossing from DRC. But now the
Ugandan side of the Lake is patrolled by a Marine brigade based in Watembo.
There is also Oil and gas police in both Hoima and Buliisa. The oil and gas
installations are generally guarded by SFC- a specialized component of the Uganda People's
Defense Forces (UPDF)
As the site for construction of the refinery is being
prepared, the Chief of Defense Forces, General Wilson Mbadi said the UPDF will
beef up deployment in Buliisa and neighboring areas.
Within Buliisa town
council stands a 100,000 cubic liter water tank connected with pipes covering
about a 4.8 -kilometer stretch transmission line from Katanga Wasenko in Lake
Albert to Kirama.
The Kirama water
project constructed by Total as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, also
supported by the government through the Petroleum Authority of Uganda has come
with great relief to residents of Kigwera and Kisanja
thanks to oil developments here.
is an urban setting, we are shifting way from having the borehole setting. In the long run we shall be shifting to National Water and Sewerage
levels when oil production begins. Said Ramose Ahebwa, who manage the project
“We have also added another kilometer
of piped water from Wanseko town to Kigwera Health Centre II to cater for our
sick mums, dads and selves.Thanks to Total, now people of Kigwera getting safe
and clean water” he said
Mugayo Richard, is one of the former residents on the 194
residents that have just been compensated to vacate from part of the 1.174 hectares
of land where the Total energies plans to construct the Central Processing
Facility (CPF) under the Tilenga project. He stands in front of his newly
constructed three-bedroom house sitting on a plot of 75 by 100 meters.
Unlike other land owner’s that opted for cash as
compensation, Mugayo chose to be constructed for a new home.
“I settled for a house because I feared that
I would misuse the money. I thought of going into business but I want sure that
I would make profits to buy another land. Actually I thank the government for
putting in place this project. Let them find all resource to see that this oil
comes out. So that we local people can benefit.
A just as stone throw-away from Mugayo’s home is Gladys
Birungi’s home. Gladys says she used to stay in a single room with her five children
having been deserted by her husband. When the compensation disclosures came,
her huts had been valued at 1.5 million shillings as a luck would have it, she is
now a proud owner of a single bedroom house.
“I had a round
house. It had no bedroom. It was separated by a curtain. Now I have a permanent
house, a permanent kitchen, plus permanent toilet. And even a water tank.” Said
“We have benefited a lot. When we got the money for compensation, we
bought many things even constructed houses for rent”