By Julius Kyamanywa.
Conservative Party president John Ken Lukyamuzi has cautioned government against rushing to explore the recently discovered oil deposits near lake Albert saying it would pose serious environmental threats to Uganda and the region at large.
“I would like to advise Uganda to post pone the oil exploration since the environmental impact of the exploration may extend to our neighboring countries”, Lukyamuzi said.
Lukyamuzi, a re-known environmental activist made the caution on Thursday at Makerere University while presenting a paper on Environment and Millennium Development Goals: the nexus between poverty, environment and development. He said building an oil refinery at Kabwoya in Hoima district would have several environmental effects, not only on Uganda but also to the neighboring countries of DRC and Rwanda since we are in a global village. He said building a refinery at Kabwoya, which is a reserve, would also affect the ecological order of Lake Albert and Kyoga.
Lukyamuzi attacked government for insisting on the use of DDT top fight malaria instead of other environmental friendly measures like insecticide treated mosquito nets. He cited Oyam district where DDT was sprayed adding that this is a deliberate policy by the president to bring to an end all people of northern Uganda.
“ This man has a program of wiping you out in the North. If Kony did not wipe you and this man wants to, why don’t you come up?”, Lukyamuzi said causing laughter.
Lukyamuzi regretted that National Environment Authority (NEMA) had recommended BIDCO to use over 7000 hectares, a factor that has caused decline of water levels at Lake Victoria.
Uganda expects to reach fully-fledged oil production in the next five years following oil exploration results in the Lake Albert Valley. Tullow Oil Company is in the process of setting up a small oil refinery that will initially produce around 4,000 barrels of oil a day. By 2009 Uganda expects to produce between 40,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day. Government has already passed oil and gas policy which provides a regulatory framework for the exploitation of oil and gas resources. Up to $5 billion is required to establish a Petroleum Authority of Uganda and a National Oil Company. Last year, Tullow Oil said it would have invested up to $300 million by the time it starts oil production in the middle of 2009.