OIL ACTIVITIES NOT INTERFERING WITH WILDLIFE IN UGANDA
The UWA Executive Director Andrew Seguya has said that oil activities are not interfering with wildlife in Uganda’s Albertine graben. A lot of oil exploration acticities are being carried out in Murchison Falls National Park which has a very diverse ecosystem for wildlife in Uganda.
This is contrary to the information from other UWA officials who say that the activities going on in the Albertine have greatly affected wildlife in the area.
The officials in their presentations at two different foras said that there has been death of animals due to poisonous chemicals used during drilling which have found their way into the ground and into the water drank by the animals.
The officials also said that the ongoing activities have greatly restricted their movements in the national parks adding that the noise and vibrations of machines is greatly affecting them.
But Seguya says that those activities are no different from the other usual activities carried out by the park rangers or the noise made by tourists’ trucks in the protected areas. He said that there were challenges even before the commencement of oil activities but what matters is how the challenges are handled.
He says that an oil unit has been set up in the strategic plan running from 2013-2018 to principally devise mitigation measures that need to be taken.
He added that rangers have been trained and deployed where exploration and drilling is taking place. A 24-hour team which is composed of UWA staff, staff from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and staff from the Petroleum Exploration and Exploration Department is responsible.
He said that he is confident that the challenges will be resolved because the oil companies are doing their part responsibly and that he is satisfied with their response.
In their presentations the, officials said that oil companies pay these rangers subsequently making it challenging for them to supervise their bosses.
But Seguya denied that the oil companies pay rangers. He said that what they do is pay UWA for the services it renders to them which he says is a basic principal of conservation called the polluter pays principle.
But the Projects Manager for Energy and Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)Robert Damulira says the impacts are now minimal and can probably be contained. But he doubts UWA’s competence in mitigating the medium term and long term impacts.
Damulira told our correspondent that the government and UWA in particular need to strengthen their policies and put some places in that region strictly off-limits. He said for example the Albert-Nile Delta which is important to animals for mainly water need to be demarcated as off-limits adding that he hopes that UWA and government will not be deceived by oil money to destroy Uganda’s important sector.
70 percent of the countries Protected Areas are in the Albertine and 50 percent of the oil wells lie with in these Protected Areas.