Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are demanding the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the oil companies to look at them with mercy in relation to empowering the local people to benefit from the oil industry.
They also need special considerations during implementations of other government development projects including the ‘Emyoga’ which they say sometimes are unfavorable to them.
Speaking during a dialogue on the review of the progress on efforts to promote inclusion of PWDs in livelihood programmes in Hoima and Kikuube districts, Edith Barungi, the Deputy Chairperson for Hoima District Union of Persons with Disabilities said the 30 per cent saving condition ahead of benefiting from ‘Emyoga’ project could not favour the PWDs.
According to her, there could be special and relaxed conditions for PWDs other than setting them in the same race with other categories of people.
Ms Barungi notes that a similar phenomenon is being witnessed in the oil industry where everybody is expecting a lot.
She calls upon the government to initiate special programmes that will enable PWDs to benefit from the oil industry as an affirmative action in respect of the constitution.
“I would expect a special call by the oil companies and government to skill persons with disabilities in preparation for the oil industry. But to my dismay, they generalise it. There are skills like handicraft and welding that they can engage in depending on one’s disability”, she said.
Ms Barungi demands for special scholarships for PWDs to attain technical skills depending on one’s ability outside the general competition as she has always heard on radio admitting welders and drivers.
The chairperson argues that when PWDs are set in competition with other persons, they are always out-competed because based on cultural attitude about them, they normally miss quality education that could enable them excel in national exams.
Ms Barungi further calls upon the government to increase on the special grant support to PWDs in order to intensify their development projects.
In response to Ms Barungi’s calls, Joyce Kabatalya, Hoima District Senior Community Development Officer in-charge of gender acknowledged that the PWDs’ SACCOs were not funded in the first lot because they were not prepared with all the necessary structures and infrastructure on the ground.
She, however, said the concerned authorities have been working to ensure that PWDs are given first priority during implementation of any project.
The Hoima District Speaker, Nathan Kitwe Isingoma, however, urged PWDs to appreciate that they will not escape the general competition in the oil industry and other projects.
He challenges them to be enterprising and appreciate that there are many direct and indirect opportunities coming with the oil industry for those that will be found prepared.
“We cannot rule out competition however much you continue lamenting. Fine you may be having a disability but you need to work hard to improve the little you have as you wait for the bigger one”, said Kitwe.
This engagement held at Hoima Resort Hotel was organised by Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO) with support from Hoima Union of Disabled Persons (HUDIP).
Dickens Amanya, the Coordinator for BAPENECO assured the PWDs of increased deliberate action to aging them in the oil related issues saying that a couple of oil companies have already pledged to improve their engagement strategies and involve PWDs more.
“It is true there has not been deliberate action but during our recent engagements with the oil companies they have pledged to work with the structures of PWDs to grass root”, said Mr Amanya.