The top leader of the Islamic faith in Uganda His Eminence Mufti Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, has commended the government and oil sector players for the apparent developments changing the image of not only Bunyoro but the entire country.
“I was last here in 2015. But what I have seen now is incredible infrastructural development including the tarmac road network, the airport and many more that developers say are around the corner,” said Mufti Mubajje.
The clergyman, who is also the Chairman of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), led a delegation of more than 30 clerics under the IRCU umbrella to visit the oil projects in the Albertine region.
They visited Kabaleega International Airport, EnviroServ Waste Management Plant, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) terminal, Ngiri oil drilling rig site, the Central Processing Facility (CPF) and a couple of resettled Tilenga project affected persons.
They listened to positive testimonies from the few visited persons.
In a separate interview at the climax of the field tour at Bugungu Camp, Sheikh Mubajje expressed optimism that the oil industry will also help faith-based institutions to grow financially since people’s incomes will increase.
“Instead of bringing sugar, eggs and sugarcane as offerings, people will be able to offer trips of bricks to their respective churches and mosques,” he said.
The Mufti urged fellow religious leaders to spread the good news about the oil industry developments and change the attitude of all citizens to support it.
According to him, he had most questions and misconceptions clearly responded to though he could not undermine the need for continuous engagement of religious leaders highlighting that the numerous questions asked by the delegates to oil projects developers showed a big knowledge gap.
He was convinced that a lot was in place including the latest technology informed by assessments to protect the environment which all interest the people of Uganda.
However, the cleric did not visit the Kingfisher oil field.
While being briefed at the airport, the trip organisers said they could not head to Kingfisher which also has exciting developments because their operations had been halted following an accident that claimed the life of one of the employees.
The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) had confirmed halting the operations of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Limited led-Kingfisher developments.
Asked about how he would have enjoyed a drive to the Kingfisher, Sheikh Mubajje said ‘there is time for everything. The opportunity will come again and we shall reach there.’
He called upon sector players to heighten safety issues to avoid re-occurrence of such nasty experiences.
Mr Peter Muriisa, the Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), expressed their commitment as sector players to ensure that developed infrastructure takes Uganda to its dreams and Vision 2020.
Giving an example of Kabaleega International Airport expected to witness flight tests in December this year, he said it will boost tourism and trade internally and globally.
During his presentation at Kabaleega Resort Hotel ahead of the field visit, Mr Muriisa confirmed that UNOC is strategically placed to make business for the government alongside other oil sector players including TotalEnergies EP Uganda, CNOOC and EACOP.
Ms Joy Muballe, the Social Performance Director at TotalEnergies EP Uganda, urged religious leaders to beware of the ongoing campaign by some people to paint a bad picture of the oil projects.
“Recently, there were pictures of grass-thatched houses on social media and they claimed that they were houses built by TotalEnergies for the project affected persons. But I think you have seen the houses yourself and heard from the beneficiaries,” she said.
Mr Seth Muhumuza, the Officer Stakeholder Management at the PAU, said as the oil sector regulators, they will continue with close monitoring to ensure that all Ugandans benefit.
He called upon leaders at different levels to become ambassadors of attitudinal change and promised to continue organising more trips for different categories of people as developments take shape on projects.
The trip was organised by UNOC in collaboration with PAU.