The Acting Hoima City Mayor, Grace Mary Mugasa, has challenged the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), oil companies and other stakeholders to pay attention to sensitisation of slum dwellers to ensure that they are also positively prepared to benefit from the oil industry.
According to her, there is need for special packages to change the attitude of the youths living in Hoima city slums to see their meaningful participation in the oil and gas sector.
She said this in an interview with Kazi-njema News at the sidelines of an engagement organised by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Total E&P Uganda in partnership with Kitara Development Initiative (KITADI) at Hoima Resort Hotel this week.
The politician is concerned about the rapidly growing population of youth dwellers in the city as a future risk that needs urgent and concerted efforts to address.
She also notes that information about oil should continuously flow amongst the dwellers in urban centres because most spillover effects socially and economically rest on them.
Ms Mugasa proposes expansion of Corporate Social Responsibility activities to Hoima city similarly to what they have done in their areas of operation including Buhuka and Buliisa where the working relationship has been taken to a higher level.
The mayor warns that if a big population of the local youths is left out, they can opt to concentrate on dubious means of survival including robbery, sex work and theft.
“As long as you have many unemployed youths as the city grows, you will automatically have insecurity. It is important to prepare the youths in urban areas to avoid violence and criminality. More sensitisation is needed not only to the ghetto guys but all city dwellers,” says Ms Mugasa.
Mr David Kagoro, the Community Relations Manager, for CNOOC says they are working out a mechanism to directly engage city dwellers though they also believe they have been receiving communication on radio and some during their quarterly stakeholder engagements.
Mr Faith Muhumuza, the Stakeholder Engagement Officer at the PAU urges the local leaders to always share their knowledge with the population at every platform they get.
According to him, the government is committed to ensuring that the oil resource benefits all Ugandans starting with the local persons in the vicinity of the oil operations either directly or indirectly.
He says more than 160,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities will be generated by the industry during the development phase starting as soon as the Final Investment Decision (FID) in Uganda’s oil industry is made by the government and oil companies. Those that are prepared will absolutely benefit either directly or indirectly.
Hoima city as of January this year had about 11 ghetto groups demanding government to pay attention to their issues.
It is last year when Hoima ghetto residents started coming out boldly asking leaders to recognise their identity and work towards helping them saying they comprise a great deal of elites frustrated by joblessness but ready to take up opportunities and contribute to national development.