By Moses Mulondo
A group of 12 youth leaders from Bunyoro have petitioned parliament to intervene on what they termed as exclusion from opportunities arising from the oil resource.
The youth, led by one of their MPs Barnabas Tinkasimre presented their petition to the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday.
Reading the petition on behalf of his colleagues, John Mulumba said Banyoro have been denied employment opportunities by the oil companies and excluded in state scholarships for training in oil colleges.
“Due to oil activities, our economic activities have been disrupted. Our water and food are contaminated. Our wildlife has been affected. We therefore deserve to share the economic opportunities because we are directly affected,” Mulumba explained.
They want an inquiry into the activities of oil companies, criteria for giving jobs and waste management.
“Exploration activities such as drilling of oil wells and associated noise and vibrations have disturbed the breeding grounds and migratory patterns of the wildlife and the fish in Lake Albert. As a result, fishing has diminished thus undermining a major source of livelihood to our people,” he elaborated.
On the inadequate measures to protect the Albertine Graben, they requested parliament and government to enact stringent policies and laws to protect the ecosystem which has a bearing on the lives of the people in the area.
They also want parliament and government to operationalize the ban imposed on all land transactions including land situated in the Albertine region to deter speculative sharks who are exploiting and grabbing land from indigenous people.
The youth raised concern over restriction of residents from going to some places, lack of transparency and trailers with Kenyan and Tanzania plates carrying oil under the cover of darkness.
They also claim that so many people who were displaced by government have not been compensated and those compensated have been underpaid as small as sh20, 000.
The youth want government to compensate the people of Bunyoro for the loss of their economic activities and for the hazardous effects of the oil activities which they are suffering.
They demanded for an explanation why Banyoro are excluded in the top juicy positions of the National Oil Company and the Petroleum Authority yet the resource is in Bunyoro.
Like the Bunyoro kingdom officials have demanded, the Bunyoro youth want government to increase their share of the oil revenue.
Whereas in the current arrangement Bunyoro districts are given 7% of the oil proceeds, the youth want the percentage to be increased to 30%.
They gave government an ultimatum of 60 days to respond to their concerns without which they will resort to protests.
Tinkasimire said, “Government will have trouble with the people of Bunyoro if they don’t give us what we deserve. In jobs and training opportunities priority should be given to Bunyoro because the resource is in their territory and they are directly affected by the adverse effects oil activities.”
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga assured the youth that she would task the responsible parliament committee to investigate the concerns they had raised.
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