Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a vital tool for promoting transparency and accountability in a country’s extractive industry.
Extractive resources such as oil and gas and other minerals have potential and opportunities to transform countries to attain economic growth and development. However, many African countries with natural resources suffer economic instabilities, corruption, civil wars, community conflicts and many more, resulting into a “resource curse.”
This is due to lack of transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources. Uganda has committed to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) so as to use oil to achieve lasting benefits for the people of Uganda.
For over 10 years, different stakeholders have been advocating for Uganda to join EITI in order to promote transparency in the extractive industry.
In previous reports, Uganda has been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa. However, as Uganda nears oil production, it has been a timely initiative for the country to join the other 51 countries implementing the EITI.
Therefore, extractive companies in the oil and gas sector such as Tullow Oil, Armour Energy Ltd, Unoc, Cnooc, Total E&P, and Oranto, among others, shall publish all revenues they pay to government, the profits they make, and what they don’t pay but ought to have paid.
Government of Uganda must voluntarily publish the revenue it receives from the companies and how the revenues where received and spent. Joining EITI shall promote effective public participation as citizens access information. ￼
Kudos KCCA on road walkways
As the year started, KCCA Ag. Executive Director Eng. Andrew Kitaka announced a six-month program, among which included the construction of road walkways or sidewalks.
I am impressed that KCCA has vigorously embarked on this exercise on some streets. For example, there have been works at Parliamentary avenue, which is slowly changing the face of the city. In many developing countries, especially in Africa, city authorities put little emphasis on construction of road walkways yet they have immense benefits.
In fact, in developed countries like USA and most European countries, walkways are regarded as an important infrastructure, and not just a form of city beautification.
Sidewalks, for example, play an important role in transportation as they provide a safe path for people to walk on, hence reducing accidents. More than 270,000 pedestrians are killed around the world every year.
According to US department of Transportation, around 4,500 pedestrians are killed in traffic crashes with motor vehicles in the United States and pedestrians are killed while walking along the roadway.
Urban planners and researchers contend that providing walkways separated from the travel lanes could help to prevent up to 88 per cent of roadway crashes.
Apart from safety benefits, road walkways provide urban dwellers the much-needed space for regular walking, which keeps our bodies active, thus leading to longer lives. Therefore, by embarking on construction of road walkaways, KCCA is on spot and the public should strongly support this initiative.
Plant more trees to regulate climate change
If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature. Climate change has always been a major challenge in Uganda especially in the northeastern part of the country like Karamoja, where many people there have to perpetually depend on food aid due to the drought.
The situation is being blamed partly on Uganda’s increasing population, which is growing at a rate of about 3.6 per cent per annum. At that rate, there will be need for more land for settlement and farming.
And as a need to survive, more trees will be cut down, hence causing climate change. The rise in temperatures in Uganda is partly blamed on the rate at which trees are being cut down especially by charcoal making businesses. However, the government’s proposal to plant more than 240,000 trees in eight sub-counties that make up Oyam district is a great way to mitigate climate change in Uganda.
Studies by the National Forestry Authority identified massive deforestation as one of the most critical environmental crises Uganda faces. Uganda’s forest cover across the country tremendously declined from 24 per cent (4,933,271 hectares) of land area in 1990 to less than 9 per cent (1,956,664ha) in 2018.
That Uganda has lost about 3,000,000 ha of forest cover in 25 years is very alarming. To reverse this loss by 2040, we need to restore at least 136,000 ha annually.
If more trees are planted, they will help regulate the environment by reducing unpredictable weather. It is, therefore, a call to all citizens to plant more ￼￼trees.
Care should be taken around barracks
The outcry of residents living around Kabamba military barracks in Mubende district should act as an eye-opener. Residents there have complained of how their lives have been affected by the military drills carried out by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). In Uganda, there are several training grounds for both the police and army.
However, not all these training grounds have affected the lives of the neighbouring communities. Senior staff command college Kimaka in Jinja, Kibuli police training school, Kabalye police training ground and Kigo shooting grounds are some of the grounds where trainings similar to those in Kabamba are carried out.
The leadership at Kabamba has claimed that residents around the barracks are always warned and at times airlifted to safety.
Considering the cost of evacuated residents and the time wasted in issuing warnings, the government should gazette the military grounds and create buffer zones between the military barracks and the surrounding community.
For the residents who have been affected due to the drills, the government should make compensation towards their expenses. It should also relocate the neighbouring communities around the barracks to a safer zone.
Impunity on our roads needs to be tackled
Over the years, road users in Uganda have acquiesced to their shabby treatment without asking the question: “Who is entitled to the right of way in Uganda?”
This question is pertinent, given the fact that various people have continued to claim the right of way on Ugandan roads – ranging from the president to pastors, traditional leaders, cabinet ministers and private individuals who are friends of those with access to the levers of power.
Section 123 (5) of The Traffic and Road Safety Act makes it explicit that “emergency motor vehicles” such as police cars, fire brigade, ambulance and military vehicles have a right of way.
Under Regulation 5(2) of the Traffic and Road Safety (Rules of the Road) Regulations, 2004, the vehicles of the president, vice president, chief justice, speaker of parliament or the prime minister too have a right of way.
Suffice to say, some individuals not explicitly provided for under the law can be granted permission by the inspector general of police if it’s deemed necessary. However, it has now become the new normal to witness incidents of vehicles whose occupants claim the right of way in a forceful and aggressive manner in total disregard to the law and other road users.
Such incidents reign where impunity in the system is the order of the day. Interestingly, most of the vehicles that are involved in this habit are government vehicles with red number plates, giving an impression that every government vehicle has a right of way, Ironically these are government officials that should be the custodians of the law and should know better.
In Uganda, we shall always be good at drafting laws, but as long as impunity continues to reign unabated, the rhetoric of our leaders to preside over functional systems will continue to be a dream for the future.