Labour Export Companies Announce Immediate Shutdown Of Operations

Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) has said that they will officially close business with immediate effect following the refusal by Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development (MGLSD) to lift the suspension of externalization labour. 

On 20th March by MGLSD suspended the externalization labour including the clearance of Ugandans travelling abroad to work in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. But with the resumption of international passenger flights and the reopening of Entebbe Airport, MGLSD said they have received many clearance requests for migrant workers intending to return to their workplaces abroad.

In response, the MGLSD is reviewing the current suspension of externalization of labour. As part of the review, MGLSD has written to the ministry of health and the National COVID-19 Taskforce for guidance on how externalization of labour can resume.

“This should, of course, be subject to fulfilment of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the government of Uganda and other authorities in the respective destination countries," MGLSD said in a public statement this week.  

But even if clearance is given by the ministry of health and the National COVID-19 Taskforce, MGLSD said they prefer the reopening to be phased. "The first phase will start with a clearance of all categories of migrant workers other than domestic workers," MGLSD stated.

This has not gone down well with labour externalization companies whose main speciality is dealing in the domestic workers. Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies says that there are more than 165,000 Ugandans who are gainfully employed in the Middle East through the domestic workers' program.

The Association’s chairman Baker Akantambira in a press statement on Friday revealed that remittances from migrant workers in the Middle East alone into the country have grown to over $700m. In Uganda, 200 licensed labour externalizing companies have provided employment opportunities to over 4,000 Ugandans domestically.

The sector, Akantambira said, has been contributing huge None Tax Revenue to government agencies through the processing of passports, VISA fees (income to other countries, Interpol charges (98% of the Interpol Letters are from labour recruiting companies), bank charges and vaccination payments against yellow fever of Shs100,000 per person and now the recently introduced COVID-19 PCR Certificate fee.

But due to COVID-19, most of the licensed recruitment companies have closed shop, suspended operations due to rent, salary arrears and other operating costs in their places of operations after they spent the bigger part of the year without working and this has directly affected over 4,000 direct employees of these recruitment companies and their dependents.

Akantambira noted that there is also a growing concern within the sector that the prolonged closure of legal labour migration is fueling an increase in human trafficking as has been witnessed since the airport was opened on 1st October 2020.

Akantambira has also expressed concern that many a time the ministry takes sweeping decisions without engaging the respective labour companies directly or through their Association. The move, he says, by the ministry to unilaterally undertake measures directly affecting the labour companies is disturbing even though the suspension of externalization of labour was inevitable.

And for that matter, they have decided to suspend their operations until they reach an understanding with the ministry. The Association argues that the proposed phased reopening of the sector in the manner proposed is as good as extending the suspension.

"Moreover, in all this, neither the labour companies nor their leadership under the Association are being consulted," Akantambira said.





Labour Externalization Sector Worried Due To Continued Business Prohibition

By Amon Baita

On 1st October 2020, Uganda reopened Entebbe International Airport and other entry points after President Yoweri Museveni eased on COVID-19 restrictions.

The news about reopening of borders threw players from various sectors of the economy in a frenzy of excitement as it brought a new ray of hope to many, hoping that it was time to recover and put the scars and fresh wounds of COVID-19 behind their backs and move forward.

 It’s a public secret that sectors like tourism, banking, hotels and transport, Media and Externalization of labour in Uganda have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19 Lockdown.

However, since the reopening of Entebbe International Airport, Labour Externalization Industry which greatly contributes to national development through billions of remittances,  has remained closed with no official communication from government to lift the ban on labour externalization that came into force on 18th March 2020 by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development  and the subsequent closure of Entebbe International Airport and border points that initiated an end to international travel.

Our neighbouring country Kenya reopened their Externalized labour Industry last week with strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines aimed preventing spread of COVID-19 issued to the recruiting agencies.

The sector is now fully functional even when Uganda has been ahead of Kenya in suppressing COVID-19 in numbers of both infections and deaths registered.

 This means that Kenya has appreciated the value of Labour externalization industry and the need to move on and uplift the economy from effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to recent statistics, the annual remittances from over 165,000 Ugandan migrant workers in the Middle East alone into the country has grown to over $700m (Shs2.6 trillion) and domestically, the sector has also been contributing direct employment opportunities to over 4,000 Ugandans through the over 200 licensed labor externalizing companies.

Minister of State for Gender and Cultural Affairs, Peace Mutuuzo in July last year told parliament that the Middle East contributes over 50 per cent of total remittances earned by Uganda.

“Furthermore, the migrant workers in the Middle East are contributing substantially to their families through construction of houses and paying of school fees,” she said while responding to demands by a section of MPs who proposed that export of labour be suspended but that was before proper measures had been instituted to protect Ugandan migrant workers.

 The other benefits she highlighted included improvement in incomes of the migrant workers and acquisition of new and positive work ethics and skills.

There are other benefits the economy has greatly enjoyed through labor export like funds from several pre-departure training institutions and other numerous opportunities through back and forward linkages with sectors like hotels and Airlines transport.

Reports indicate that other Ugandans who wanted to seek employment opportunities abroad are now despondent.  About 5,000 Ugandans are externalized for work monthly. This means in the past seven months; 35,000 Ugandans have lost the opportunity to work abroad.

In revenue terms, the sector has been contributing huge revenue to the government agencies through purchase of passports, annual license, renewal fees from recruitment agencies, VISA fees (income to other countries, Interpol charges (98% of the Interpol Letters are from Labour recruiting companies), Bank charges and vaccination payments against yellow fever of Shs100,000 per person and now that there’s an added requirement of COVID-19 CPR Certificate ,the more requirements the more money that comes to government without forgetting that all this money is not always  paid by Ugandans intending to travel because  it’s not an inter country transactions but direct remittances from destination countries into Uganda.

This translates into billions of shillings being lost by the government of Uganda for over 5,000 migrant workers that are externalized every month.

With all this contribution the sector brings to the economy however, Government has remained silent on the way forward ever since the borders and Entebbe International Airport were reopened and this is consistently sending the sector into shambles in many ways.

Currently, most of the labour exporting agencies have closed shop, suspended operations due to rent and salary arrears in their places of operations after they have spent the bigger part of year without working and this directly affects over 4,000 direct employees of these recruitment companies and their dependents.

Further, the closure of these companies has affected thousands of migrant workers that had been cleared to travel abroad before the lockdown. For example, about 960 workers, who were in transit (Cairo and Dubai, en route Middle East, etc.) were returned to Uganda due to stoppage of entry to the Middle East. This category is currently vulnerable and stuck with their Visas desperately waiting for a way forward from both government and respective recruiting agencies that they had dealt with but also this is without mentioning the costs many of them had incurred for travel process.

Many of the proprietors of recruiting agencies we contacted while compiling this article revealed that they are actually worried due to debts from bank loans.

 They decried that most recruitment companies have accumulated unpaid interest on loans acquired before the lockdown currently estimated at over Shs10bn exclusive of interest.

This means with the high interests on loans and loss of business, if some companies are not bailed out by Government, they will close hence loss of revenue to the Government.

There is also a growing concern within the sector that there is going to be increased cost of services involved in the recruitment process due to prolonged and expensive documentation requiring COVID-19 certificates and this lengthy process is likely to lead to human trafficking.

In an interview, Uganda Association of External Recruitment agencies (UAERA) Spokesperson, Ronnie Mukundane, said that he had just reported back to office but they were yet to receive a letter lifting the ban that was imposed by their line ministry when the country was setting into lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We however received a letter last month from our line Ministry of Labour guiding us on Occupational Safety and Health Standard Operating Procedures for Prevention of Transmission of COVID-19 at Work Places and we have since guided and sensitized our members on the way forward,” he said.

Some of the recruiting agencies visited while compiling this report like UAERA and Crane Chambers based Premier Recruitment had put in place Occupational safety and health Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) in their places of work and are only waiting for a way forward from the ministry.

Six Easy To Follow Homeschooling Tips For Parents

Uganda has over 15 million students in different institutions of learning according to the Ministry of Education and Sports. As a way of controlling the spread of COVID-19, only 10 percent of these learners who are mainly finalist students will be reporting back to school starting October 15th 2020 leaving the majority at home.

The Minister for Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance Honourable Judith Nabakooba in a recent media address urged continuing students to take homeschooling seriously as it could determine their promotion to the next class.

Now more than ever before, parents are going to find themselves having to go beyond periodically helping their children with homework and other such class assignments to ultimately managing their children’s education from home.

Despite its novelty in many homes in Uganda, homeschooling has many benefits; parents get to spend more time with their children, track their scholastic progress, control the child’s pace of learning and monitor their children’s diets.

However, if not well structured, homeschooling can be challenging for both parents and students especially when parents have more than one child and have to juggle homeschooling with work and house chores.

In this article, we share 6 tips on how to effectively organize the homeschooling experience and ensure that children are on track with the curriculum.

  1. Create a designated homeschooling space

Living and learning under one roof can be stressful if not well organized. In order to avoid confusion and having to always clear up spaces for study which can waste a lot of time, keep your children’s study materials in one designated specific learning space.

  1. Design and follow a specific homeschooling schedule

Make a specific homeschooling schedule for your child or children if you have more than one. The schedule should allot time for different subjects as well as the duration of study as well as study breaks for snacks and physical exercise so that students are not constantly bombarded with books.

Try as much as possible to work the homeschooling schedule around your other responsibilities such as house work and career. As well, engage children while developing the schedule and show them the allotted times for breaks, screen time and other activities such that they are also involved with the whole process.

  1. Work with your children’s teacher or school to map out the curriculum

Mapping out the curriculum will help you track the progress of your child therefore do not be afraid to call up your child’s teacher or school official for ideas on how best to follow the curriculum from home in order to make the learning process simpler.

  1. Emphasize good nutrition for your homeschooled child

Learning is an intense activity that requires good nutrition for a child to concentrate better. Try as much as possible to include nutritious foods into your child’s diet in order to ensure that they are focused and happy learners.

Fresh Dairy products such as flavoured yoghurt, Brookside fruit yoghurt, flavoured milk, long life UHT milk, TCA (Triangular) long life milk are appropriate choices because they are not only handy and ready-to-drink but are also nutrient rich with energy, carbohydrates, proteins, fat and calcium among others.

  1. Look for learning opportunities beyond text books

Homeschooling is a great experience to bond with your child and to teach them life skills that can only be learnt outside class. These can include baking, cooking and money management among others therefore use this opportunity to teach your child these skills that they will need when they are in and out of school.

  1. Collaborate with other homeschoolers

Help, supervise and encourage your child connect with his or her classmates online in order to facilitate peer interaction. As well, as a parent collaborate with other homeschooling parents in order to get resources that can enrich the homeschooling experience for you and your child.

Promote Renewable Energy To Save Environment

By Paul Kato

Uganda’s population is estimated to be 43.8 million people and growing at an average rate of 5.3% per year. The growing population is obviously exerting a lot of pressure on the existing natural resources in the quest for food, habitation, social, economic and environmental wellbeing. This is because of the failure by the government to promote renewable energy fully in the country especially in the rural areas.

Majority of the population in Uganda is poor experiencing hampered social and human development because they are not fully engaged in the use of renewable energy especially solar energy which is cheaper, affordable, clean, reliable and environmental friendly. The massive destruction of the environment, for instance, the forests and wetlands is like to continue on increased rate due to the failure by the government of Uganda to invest much in the renewable energy especially solar energy.

The per capita consumption of these energy sources in Uganda is still very small ranging from 5% to Zero especially in rural areas of Uganda. The supply and availability of renewable is crucial to the social and economic transformation and country development without degradation of the environment.

The country should know that when renewable energy is fully promoted in the country especially in the rural areas, it will be easy for the people to shift from agriculture, charcoal burning and use of firewood among other which tend to contribute too much pressure on the environment.

The environment needs to be conserved because of the increasingly climatic changes in the country. Today, various parties of the country, especially in the rural areas people, are suffering from different climatic changes like floods and prolonged drought among others because of the massive degradation of the environment due to a lot of pressure put by people carrying out agriculture and charcoal burning.

The country should invest much in the renewable energy to reduce the pressure put on the environment by individuals, veterans and senior government officials carrying out human activities like agriculture and charcoal burning.

Paul Kato-research associate

African Institute for Energy Governance.

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Fresh Dairy Explains Importance Of Quality Dairy Products

Milk is a key component of any balanced diet and yet many people are not well versed with its processing or value chain that impacts the quality of milk before it gets to their glasses.

According to the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) in Uganda, although milk production in Uganda has increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015 to about 2.5 billion in litres in 2020, consumption is still low. A DDA report suggests that the per capita consumption of milk in Uganda stands at 62 litres which falls below the 200 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Speaking at a recently organized event at the DDA offices, the Minister of State for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama blamed this low consumption on people’s tendency to take fruit juice or soda which is readily available instead of milk which according to him is more nutritious. Rwamirama called for the need to prioritize serving milk at events in order to boost milk consumption.

This call for increased milk consumption has come at a time when milk processing companies have made it easier for consumers to take dairy products by ensuring quality control and varying products such as milk, yoghurt, butter, flavoured milk, and cream among others from which consumers can choose.

Marketing Manager, Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth said, ‘A growing body of recent research suggests that enjoying three servings of dairy foods a day is part of a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, and while several dairy products are available on the market, it’s vital to pay attention to the processing value chain as the quality of these dairy products is determined by the effectiveness of the milk processing value chain. The milk processing value chain refers to the step by step process that milk takes from the farm to the consumer’s cup.

Omoth noted that the value chain of Fresh Dairy’s products begins with the Farm. Fresh Dairy works with over 30,000 small and large farmers who are the principal stakeholders in our business that we empower on best practice in the dairy enterprise periodically. At Fresh Dairy, we believe that good quality milk products are made from good quality milk. We therefore source all the milk used in Fresh Dairy products from Ugandan farms only.’

Omoth explained that dairy farmers take their milk to Milk Collection Centres every morning where it undergoes mandatory tests. From Milk Collection Centres, milk is driven using milk tankers to the factory. At the factory, milk is tested again before entering a closed processing system out of which dairy products are made such as yoghurt, milk, ghee, butter, cream. The pasteurized Fresh Dairy products are then distributed to the retail outlets such as shops, supermarkets, duukas and kiosks countrywide where consumers can easily buy them.

Bugoma Forest Reserve Is Falling At An Alarming Rate

By Aryampa Brighton

Following a certificate issued by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), guiding on how the land on Bugoma in Kikuube district should be used, Hoima Sugar have been allowed to grow sugarcane, which NEMA deems fit for human activity since it is grassland.

This act by NEMA sends grief down the spine of environmental activists across the globe who had protested the occupancy of Hoima Sugar on the land as the existence of Bugoma Forest reserve hangs in balance. Prior to issuance of the same certificate by NEMA, Masindi High Court Judge Mr. Wilson Masalu Musene ruled to allow the destruction of over 22 square miles of natural forest cover by Hoima Sugar Works for a sugarcane plantation.

This ruling also implied that he indirectly (though quite explicitly) ruled in support of the degazettement of a forest reserve that is also home to rare species of wildlife including over 500 Chimpanzees, Mangabeys, rare bird species and diverse plant life. After the decision, the life of Bugoma has been hanging on Civil society and NGOs from conservation, tourism and the legal fraternity who since came to launch the “SAVE BUGOMA FOREST CAMPAIGN”.

The whole Bugoma case focuses on land, but what happens if this is a natural forest, or wetland, or game reserve? Should it not be the Government of Uganda to guardedly monitor natural resources in and outside protected areas for the benefit of all people of Uganda? Who then should be mandated with ensuring that the country’s natural resources are protected?

Despite the country’s efforts to carry out several excellent environmental policies, legal and institutional reforms aimed at promoting the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s forest resources, as is the case with many other regulations, enforcement and corruption have been a major challenge.

Uganda today has the highest forest conversion and degradation in the whole of East Africa. According to the 2016 joint water and environment sector review report, Uganda’s forest cover had reduced from 24% in 1990 to just 11% in 2015. A few years ago, government gave out Butamira to Madhvani family’s Kakira sugar works, and in 2007, it attempted to degazette part of Mabira forest for use by Mehta’s Lugazi sugar factory, thanks to efforts by the conservation fraternity, civil society and the general public, this move was blocked.

“The issue of government consultation and consensus building on forest related and other natural-resource-based issues is still wanting,” “For all the forest land that has been given away, has there been consensus with the different players in the sector, and have there been thorough Environmental Social Impact Assessments which are prerequisite for any development of such magnitude almost anywhere around the world?” At the answer to these questions lies the heart of the problem in the fight to save Bugoma from distinction.

Despite the assertation by Hoima Sugar Ltd Spokesperson Sheila Nduhukire that On 25th April 2019, court ruled that Hoima Sugar was the rightful occupant of the 22square Miles of land bordering Bugoma Forest Reserve after National Forestry Authority NFA dragged Hoima Sugar to Court challenging the occupancy.

As Ugandans we that Whether the land falls inside the boundaries of the gazetted reserve or not … is a merely sterile exercise for primary school students. Because the reality is that we are talking about an ecosystem of international importance that cannot be discussed in parts and pieces,” he said.

The decision to go ahead with clearing the forest is “an unforgivable shame for all people of common sense, not only in Uganda but in the world”. Conservation groups and forestry experts have long warned that destroying even just a part of the forest’s diversity would lead to a loss of fauna and flora, and affect the water levels of the River Nile.

This plan to destroy Bugoma forest is not only detrimental to the Ugandan government plans to develop and invest in tourism in Bugoma Forest, but to the overall fragile and rich ecosystem which will simply be irreparably compromised. This is because Sugarcane is not only environmentally unfriendly in general, but in particular when it becomes the buffer zone of a tropical rainforest. But it is not the best crop to use as a buffer zone around a protected area because it doesn’t mix well with wildlife.

People siding with NEMA to give away our forest should know that Forests are life. Source of air, water, food, shelter, medicine: they are critical to the survival of every living thing on Earth. From the rainforests of the tropics to the snowy boreal forests circling the northern hemisphere, these ecological powerhouses support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people and host 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.

Their ability to generate rainfall is vital for millions of farmers not only in Uganda but also around the world as well as global food security. And, as the fight to stave off climate change escalates, forests could be our most important natural climate solution. Therefore as noted by MR. Dickens Kamugisha, an environmentalist and Chief Executive Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance during the press conference at Sheraton Hotel on save Bugoma campaign on Sunday 24th August 2020  that The fight to protect the world’s forests should be at the very heart of every human being.

Together with farmers, scientists, Indigenous forest communities, governments, responsible businesses, and citizens, should work diligently to cultivate sustainable, rural economies the most widely-proven strategy to keep our forests standing.

Aryampa Brighton is a student of Environmental law and policy at Uganda Christian University and research associate at Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

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Save Bugoma Central Forest Reserve From Destruction

By Patrick Edema

It was reported in media that the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued a certificate of approval that allows the destruction of 21.5 square miles of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in the midwestern region for sugarcane growing.

The issuance of the NEMA certificate to the sugarcane company came amid protests from the National Forestry Authority (NFA) who’s case is still pending before the court of appeal and the environmental activities who are fighting for the protection of biodiversity.

The Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, which covers 41,144 hectares, is the largest remaining block of natural tropical rainforest along the Albertine Rift Valley. The forest lies between Budongo forest and Semliki, thereby playing an enormous role in preserving wildlife migratory corridors.

It is also home to about 500 chimpanzees, which is 10% of the Ugandan chimpanzee population, making the forest a chimpanzee sanctuary. In addition, among other primates, Bugoma hosts a population of Ugandan mangabeys, which are endemic to this forest and are therefore a unique treasure.

Further, over 221 bird species have been recorded in Bugoma forest. Bugoma forest is also the single-most important tourist destination, outside the known national parks and wildlife reserves.

And with an ever-growing deforestation rate in Uganda that caused the loss of 63% of forested cover in only three decades, the life of the people in Bunyoro and in Uganda at large is more and more endangered. As forests are degraded or cut down, animal habitats are destroyed, resulting in increased human-wildlife conflicts.

In addition, water resources reduce as forests play an important role in water provisioning; this increases water stress. Further, soil fertility reduces, thereby affecting agriculture on which over 60% of Uganda’s population solely depend to meet their household needs.

In addition, conversion of Bugoma forest into a sugarcane plantation or any other land use that does not promote conservation undermines the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) among others which Uganda has ratified.

It will also undermine Uganda’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases through commitments made under Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and as well as the country’s commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Finally, since 1986, the Government of Uganda has pursued a policy of economic recovery and poverty reduction whilst observing sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. Currently, forest and environmental conservation is an integral component of the National Development Plan (NDP) III and the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy.

This is due to the role forests and the environment at large play in supporting Uganda’s major economic activities such as agriculture, tourism and others. Therefore, destroying Bugoma forests that at the expense of sugarcane growing should be avoided for the wellbeing of the people in Bunyoro and Ugandans at large. It is paramount that the existing Bugoma Forest central reserve is protected and conserved.

Patrick Edema

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Kato Isa Explains Why He Is The Right Person To Be MP For Kampala Central

The National Resistance Movement (NRM), the largest and ruling political party in Uganda, is preparing for the 2021 general elections by electing persons to represent them in the national elections at different levels.

The concluded National Delegates Conference held at each of the district headquarters approved the endorsement of President Yoweri Museveni as national chairperson and presidential flag bearer. It elected members of Central Executive Committee.

Now the party is looking at selecting through the NRM party primaries individuals to contest in the general elections as Members of Parliament (MPs) and district local council leaders. MP slots are expected to be highly contested.

The ruling party will take no chances as it looks forward to retaining their majority representation in parliament. They cannot afford to lose even a single slot and for that matter, it will be looking at fronting the strongest candidate who then will battle contenders from other political parties or independents.

Kampala, the epicentre of Uganda’s politics, has some interesting races but being a predominantly an opposition stronghold, Kampala Central, a constituency that has never fallen in the hands of the opposition, has attracted some interesting young candidates at party level.

Poor Youth Coming For Nsereko’s Kampala Central

Kampala Central is occupied by Muhammad Nsereko, currently an independent but a known NRM person. In fact, he was an NRM candidate the first time he contested and won to become MP. He hasn’t expressed intent to reclaim his NRM cap preferring to remain independent.

In the party primaries race, Kampala Central has attracted Kato Isa, famously known for his activism with NRM Poor Youth, Cedric Babu Ndlima, the son Francis Babu and others who will be gunning to capture the blessings of the party.

In an interview with News Today Uganda, Kato Isa comes off as the winning formula that the party needs to reclaim the constituency from an unreliable NRM leaning independent Nsereko.

Kato, has been an active member of NRM right from the university days and at the village level. He resides in William village, Nakasero parish, Kampala.

"I was the general secretary Makerere University NRM Chapter.  When I came out, I concentrated on working and getting more education abroad. When I came back, in 2014, we started the NRM Poor Youth. We did a lot of activism. We were majoring in rooting for rule of law, fighting corruption and empowering the youth," he said.

Through activism under NRM Poor Youth, Kato and his colleagues caused reforms in the party and governments. To date, they are still active fighting corruption in government institutions like Bank of Uganda but they feel the time to upgrade from activism to policymaking is now hence his pursuit to become MP.  

"You know being an activist means that you have a cause and as NRM Poor Youth we had a cause and it doesn’t end at just that, being an activist.  Now we need to also influence decisions.

We have been pushing but there is somewhere where decisions are made, that is where I want to go, the parliament, and take these activism ideas there. We all know the powers that parliament has – everything has to be implemented, supervised and audited in parliament and that is where we need to go right now.”

I Am A Strong Candidate In A Strong Party

Kato is confident that NRM can retain Kampala Central because it is strong with majority voters. “I can give you an example. We have 136 villages and 90 per cent of the chairpersons of these villages are NRM. That gives us the leverage to feel in charge of the city,” he explains.

But with this support and base, Kato believes that the incumbent who enjoys the perks of the party in power has given the electorates a raw deal.

“He is just an MP who keeps in the media but on the ground, we feel that there has been a very big gap which he created within the leadership of Kampala who he should be working with because they are stakeholders.

In the ten years, he has been in parliament, he has never held village meetings to consult, even at parish level – we have 20 parishes – he has never held a meeting to consult. He has abandoned his electorates,”

Kato says he is a strong candidate compared to others and he has premised his manifesto on developing a city that doesn’t compromise its residents. This, he says, requires working together and consulting all stakeholders whose lives and survival are connected to the decisions made by the city leadership.

Boda Bodas, Markets And Education

For example, on the issue of boda boda operating in Kampala, Kato sees no reason why they should be chased out of the city but instead provided lanes in which they can operate without inconveniencing others.

"Why wouldn’t the city physical planners put up walkways and cycling lanes instead of chasing away people. The country is only planning for car drivers; so, I want to advocate for the construction of walkways.

We can work with the technical planning team at KCCA because the plans are there but have not been implemented.  Then we can have cycling lanes, these can give us a breather,”

By the look of things, we shouldn’t expect Kato to advocate for the chasing of boda boda riders out of the city anytime soon. The other key issue in Kampala is the fate of markets. He says that markets are catalysts of development and government should apply the method of zoning so that development is spread across the city and shared.

Kato’s other big ideas are the education sector where he wants to improve academic and sports performance; tourism is something where he wants to tap into by promoting tourist attraction sites in the city and the introduction of themed festivals.

Land Acquisition For Oil And Gas Projects: Project Affected Persons Will Be Adequately Compensated

By Ali Ssekatawa

The oil and gas sector in Uganda is at a critical stage.  The commercial negotiations which will impact both the profitability and the sector’s contribution to inclusive development are in the final stages.  The infrastructure required to commercially produce the Country’s 6 billion barrels of oil and gas resources has been clearly defined.  This includes the precise location for the various infrastructure.

This infrastructure includes well pads and flowlines, crude oil pipelines, central processing facilities, a refinery, base camps and access roads, among others. These facilities are being set up for four key projects; the Tilenga and Kingfisher projects (for development of the fields and production of the crude oil) together with the Refinery and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline projects (the commercialization projects).

Since Uganda’s oil and gas resources are onshore, the above facilities will be developed on private land acquired from the communities. Additionally, some of the required land belongs to government entities. The said land is acquired after prior, fair and adequate consent and/or compensation of the communities affected.

The halt in field activities for land acquisition for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project (and likewise for the Kingfisher and Tilenga projects) as a result of scaling down of project-related activities and later the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety among the Project Affected Persons (PAPs). 

In addition, false reports wrongly state that PAPs have been stopped from using their land while others have been forcefully evicted without compensation.  There have also been allegations that the PAPs were made to sign compensation forms without adequate information.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda acknowledges the delay in the compensation process; however, no PAP has been evicted or stopped from using their land as has been portrayed.

The 1,443km EACOP will transport Uganda’s crude oil from Kabaale in Hoima district to Tanga in Tanzania, for export to the international market.

It will be buried to a depth of about 1 metre below the ground for all its length. In Uganda, the EACOP will cover 296km, through ten (10) districts (Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera and Rakai). 

The EACOP will be laid in a 30 metres corridor and the land for this has already been identified by Government. The Kingfisher project covers Kikuube and Hoima districts, whereas the Tilenga project covers Buliisa and Nwoya Districts. 

All the PAPs for the projects have been identified, and the affected property assessed and valued.   During the assessment and evaluation exercise, all PAPs (and their spouses) are required to sign on their assessment forms to confirm that what has been captured is indeed what has been taken stock of by the valuers and assessors.

This is done in the presence of local leaders, district leaders, Government representatives including staff of PAU. There is always a translator from the community who interprets the information in the local language to the PAPs. All PAPs are given a copy of the assessment form. 

The information captured is then compiled into a Valuation Report that states the compensation award for each PAP.  Compensation rates for crops and structures are determined by the District Land Boards while land rates are determined based on market value. All these are based on prevailing market rates for the financial year in question.

The PAPs will be compensated as per the valuation reports approved by the Chief Government Valuer (CGV), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. On approval of the Valuation reports, the compensation amounts are individually disclosed to the PAPs in the presence of their spouses.

A cutoff date is announced after taking stock of affected land and properties. The announcement is meant to inform PAPs that any and all improvements made on the land following that period would not be eligible for compensation. A cut off date is essential for any project to progress from assessment to actual compensation.

Following the assessment exercise, the PAPs were advised to continue with the cultivation of seasonal crops, but any new permanent structures or long-term crops would not be compensated.  The PAPs would also be allowed to harvest all their crops and salvage any materials after compensation. Each PAP is aware of the boundaries of the project land and as such free to utilize the land outside the project footprint as he/she wishes.

The PAPs are only required to vacate project land following receipt of full compensation for said land. Currently, the only PAPs that have been requested to vacate project land are those in Tilenga Development Project RAP 1 and Kingfisher Development Area (KFDA) RAP 1 both of whom have been fully compensated and their resettlement houses completed.

All PAPs that have not been compensated remain in possession of their land and are free to keep utilizing it, within limits. Several livelihood restoration programmes in agriculture, business, financial literacy and skilling are also implemented as part of the package to support PAPs transition.

The PAPs are therefore allowed to utilize their land post-cut-off date announcement with the understanding that new developments will not be compensated, but crops can be harvested and any materials salvaged. All land surrounding and outside the project area is however not affected by the cut off dates.

It is therefore prudent to note that nobody has been evicted from their land.  After compensation, a notice to vacate will be issued with timelines within which the affected persons must move/ relocate from the project land. The PAPs are therefore encouraged to continue using their land as the process for compensation is fast-tracked by Government.

The delays occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges such as absentee landlords are regrettable;   Preparations are in high gear to resume the compensation processes within a month’s time subject to the Ministry of Health Standard operating procedures. The PAU will ensure that all PAPs are promptly, fairly and adequately compensated

Ali Ssekatawa is the Director Legal and Corporate Affairs at Petroleum Authority Uganda.

OPINION: Oil & Gas Graduates Should Be Creative

By Paul Kato

The media recently reported about oil and gas graduates petitioning the parliament over unemployment yet they are supposed to be creative.

Since 2014 over 500 graduates have graduated and only 50 graduates are employed in the oil and gas sector. This means that many of them are jobless.

Graduates need to be creative because oil and gas jobs sector is not going to be enough for graduates trained in oil and gas-related courses.

The oil and gas is expected to provide only 190,000 jobs to the graduates, therefore, people need to be creative because the jobs are not going to be enough for them.

In addition to that, the graduates should think beyond outside the box because oil and gas is expected to be extracted for a few years. This means that they need to see oil at the smaller picture.

Ugandans should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic period because many people who were working in the offices resorted to other sectors agricultural sector for survival.

For instance, people started piggery projects, poultry and planting perennial crops like banana and coffee which requires less labour.

Therefore graduates need to be creative if not, many graduates are going to be at risk of unemployment. They will also put their brains and resources to waste.

It should be noted that oil and gas in Uganda was meant to improve infrastructures like roads, schools and hospitals, projects would are supposed to provide jobs to Ugandan.

Graduates need to know that the oil and gas project is not going to satisfy all people’s needs, especially employment because from 2014 to 2020 only 50 graduates have been employed in the sector.

Therefore, I call upon government agencies like the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), local governments and local leaders to sensitize the public about local content.

Paul Kato is a research associate at Kikuube Youth Development Forum

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