down the drain

The news of our oil is nice and our hopes for its economic impacts are high. But the lack of governmental transparency and help for people affected by oil development projects disturbs my mind a lot.
How comes since the discovery of oil in 2006, common Ugandan can’t tell anything constructive out of it yet the Oil must be a chance for us to build our economy, and improve development sectors, like healthcare and education, but it seem the estimated 3.5 billion barrels about 200,000 barrels a day might go down the drain however waxy it seems, come 2018.

But hey, 2016 is another tough time for Uganda and its oil. With the billions of barrels of oil reserves in the country that seemed like a gift, there are a lot of fears, even me, the oil might sip down the drain and the poor Ugandans will not know what happened.

Like Libya, Angola, Nigeria, that exhibited the resource curse, they are the largest producers of oil in Africa and yet their citizens remain among the poorest in the world, with approximately 70% of Angolans and 80% of Nigerians living on less than two US dollars a day.

I wish Uganda’s fates be like Equatorial Guinea’s, a highly corrupt country governed by the autocratic President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, generates billions of dollars in oil revenues and has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world but pray our then president don’t mismanage the oil revenues to fund their lavish lifestyles like Equatorial Guinea where 77% of Equatorial Guineans live below the poverty line and about 20% of children die before the age of five

Who doesn’t know the level of corruption in our country? Even before the oil production has begun, several senior government officials have been accused of pocketing millions of dollars in bribes from oil companies, forcing at least one of the politicians to resign.

Painfully slow government bureaucracy are responsible for Uganda’s delayed oil production, countries unlike Ghana, which discovered oil later than Uganda but have already started production, why not us?

Like in Angola, Gabon and Nigeria, all countries with deep corruption where oil intensified class disparities, let’s expect that soon.

How about our neighbor Congo? The oil lies underneath the forests and lakes lining the border with our troubled neighbor. Who knows what shall?

Not up to Congo, these oil revenues will for sure undermine us, the locals. Many have been evicted and driven into national parks to compete with animals for natural resources, and roughly compensated for their land.

Budget came and there was no provision for those waiting compensation yet the people have to build villages, boreholes, schools and hospitals but there is a provision for beginning the refinery project which is next year. Whoever drafted the budget made it impractical.

No cohesive petroleum policy, with poor local governance, a lack of transparency, and limited local access to oil resources. Where is the skeptic Public Finance Bill to try to restore confidence in the people?

Commercial production is expected to begin in 2018 and carry on for 30 years. Yet the oil money is expected to bring electricity to the 90% who live without it, revive the ailing universal primary education system, put beds in the dilapidated hospitals and finance an ambitious presidential initiative (Vision 2040) to put Uganda in the league of upper-middle-income countries, what if our fears are true?

At the onset of exploration, the government refused to release the production-sharing agreements to the public, ruling that they were confidential. After pressure from civil society, parliament was given limited access to the agreements, but the public still cannot access them.

From withholding of information from the public to displacing and compensating local communities through an ambiguous and unfair system, to commissioning a refinery whose economic viability is still uncertain.

I still doubt that a government whose president has already declared that “it is my oil” will use revenue to deliver its promise of transformation.

Hey what about the effect on wildlife, home to about half of Africa’s bird species. Remember, there are also baboons, antelopes and elephants in the forests.

Anyway, you should bring your friends and family here before everything changes, the animals are moving further away.

What should we expect when the actual drilling begin???

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