Leaders in the oil-rich Buliisa district have asked government to establish a vocational training institution in the area to enable residents gain hands-on skills which they say will help the youth to tap into different job opportunities.
Apparently, the district is witnessing construction of different oil production facilities but many youths cannot benefit directly through employment due to lack of essential skills.
Speaking during a handover of start-up kits to people whose land and properties were affected during land acquisition for Tilenga oil industrial park at Kisomere Primary School on Monday, leaders emphasized the need to have an institute established urgently.
Norah Bigirwa Nyendwoha, the Buliisa district Woman Member of Parliament said, “We thought there would be a deliberate effort to establish a training centre since we are the host of this important national resource. All surrounding districts including Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo and Kikuube have.”
Earlier on in 2013, the district had started construction of Kirama Vocational Institute in Ngwedo sub-county which later stalled due to lack of funds.
Nyendwoha said having a training centre established would help people in the area save on money they spend on transport costs seeking for services from other districts.
Meanwhile, Buliisa’s district chairperson Fred Lukumu, appealed to oil firm TotalEnergies EP Uganda to consider supporting the same cause through their Corporate Social Responsibility programme as they (district) also wait on government.
“We need more people trained in welding, building, civil works, carpentry, plumbing and mechanical engineering, not only to get employed in the oil industry but to have self-sustenance,” Lukumu said.
While speaking at the same function, TotalEnergies EP Uganda Deputy General Manager, Mariam Nampeera Mbowa, did not comment on the request by the area leaders but said the oil firm is conscious of its responsibility to support the economic uplift of Tilenga host community.
“Our commitment has consistently been showed through the delivery of various initiatives under global restoration programme that is in line with international standards and requirements. The start-up kits will go along the way in boosting the self-sustainability and household incomes of the project affected persons,” Mbowa noted.
The oil company has provided the start-up kits to Project Affected Persons (PAPs) under Resettlement Action Plan I (RAP 1) to set up income generating activities to sustain their livelihoods.
Mbowa said the support to 104 PAPs follows the completion of a 12-months training in various skills between September 2019 and August 2021.
The training was conducted by Future Options Consulting Limited following a needs assessment for the four RAP-1 villages of Kisomere, Kirama, Kasenyi and Kiima, all in Buliisa.
It (training) took place at Buhimba technical institute, St. Simon vocational training college, Millennium business school, Prestige Driving and Christian Driving schools, and saw PAPs get skilled in tailoring, catering, automotive mechanics, driving, hair dressing, plumbing and welding.
One of the beneficiaries, Mildred Abikuha of Kisomere village who graduated in hair said she would use the skills attained to boost her chances of becoming self-employed as opposed to being a job seeker.
The Tilenga project will produce an estimated 190,000-200,000 barrels of oil per day when production expected in 2025 starts, covers existing licenses in Buliisa and Nwoya districts and shall host one of the planned Central Processing Facilities (CPFs).
The other which is manned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Limited, will be at Kingfisher development area in Kikuube district.
The two CPFs will transport crude oil to the industrial park and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) source at Kabaale sub-county in Hoima district in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania.
A CPF is an infrastructure used to process crude oil, which is received directly from the oil wells, by removing impurities and water and also helps in separating the produced gas from it.