Bunyoro men fear losing girlfriends, wives to oil workers

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By URN/Daily Monitor

Husbands in the Albertine Graben’s Hoima and Kikube districts have expressed fear of losing their wives and fiancées to oil and gas construction workers. 
They have asked oil companies to make special arrangements to ensure that their families are not disrupted when construction of the oil pipeline, refinery and related infrastructure begin.

They were commenting on the environmental and social impact assessment report developed by CNOOC Uganda Limited for the King Fisher project during a public hearing by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda.

While the report outlined several social issues like the likely increase of migrant population, some men who spoke at public hearing said it did not address and put in place measures to ensure that marriages are not broken during the construction of infrastructure needed for oil production.

Ms Harriet Businge Akiki, a former Woman Parliamentary seat contender from Hoima District said the fear is expected.

“When God was creating Bunyoro, He created men and their women in Bunyoro. With this coming project, you find that workers coming here earn higher than the locals. Our men can’t compete with them. Our women and girls rush for them with big prospects yet after the project, sometimes they dump them and abandon their responsibilities. For instance we had the road project and when those people came, they used our girls and dumped them with their children. Bunyoro culture respects the clan system,” Ms Businge said.

Ms Businge said while the Banyoro and Bangugu and other tribes in the area are ready to welcome other tribes and nationalities that will be employed in the oil and gas sector, there is need to ensure the preservation of their cultures and values.

“We appeal to the government and the institutions which are in charge of this to ensure that our girls are protected from this men. If we continue with this, things will change in Bunyoro. We will continue seeing our girls stranded with half-caste born out of such relationships,” she added.
She said issues of gender-based violence especially targeting women and girls are expected to rise as the projects get underway.

Thousands of local and foreign workers are expected to flock Buhuka Sub County where CNOOC plans to put up several infrastructures ahead of oil production and the King Fisher project.

Gender expert Professor Grace Bantebya who presided over the public hearing promised to include the concerns as part of the issues that have to be considered in the report to be presented to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

NEMA is required by the law to consider the concerns of projected affected persons before approval of the Environment Social Impact assessment reports filed by project developers. The issues of gender based violence have in the past dogged the road sector construction.

The World Bank in 2015 cancelled funding to the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project (TSDP) saying it was not being carried out in accordance with appropriate and agreed social and environmental standards.

There were concerns related to workers’ issues, noncompliance with social and environmental requirements, poor project performance, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct by contractors’ workers.

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