Elders in Acholi sub-region have said government and its partners in oil exploration immediately stop dumping waste in Murchison Falls National Park in Nwoya District, saying the waste is sending away the animals.
The elders claim that the animals, especially elephants, have massively strayed on settlement and farming areas, causing insecurity to the residents.
The leader of the group, Ms Joyce Laker, who was addressing an investment forum in Gulu recently, said unless Tullow Oil stops dumping waste in the area, the national game park would lose its investment opportunities in the near future because the numerous animals in it would no longer be there to attract tourism.
“It’s unfair for the company to dump its waste in the park in Nwoya without considering environmental protection measures. The wastes have destructive effects on the environment,” Ms Laker said.
Government calls for patience
Ms Carol Bogere, an activist for Uganda Wildlife Conservation Society, said her society supports the Acholi demand. “The oil waste is sending away elephants and other animals from Murchison Falls, yet it could have been avoided if Tullow worked with wildlife conservationists to address the problem,” Ms Bogere said.
But Mr Honey Okwalinga, an assistant commissioner for energy in the Ministry of Energy, while agreeing with the demands of the elders, refuted the claims that the waste is scaring animals from the park. He asked the Acholi to be patient as the ministry moves the waste elsewhere, adding that government has already acquired alternative dumping land for Tullow, who he said are expected to comply.
“We are aware that oil spills can contaminate water sources leading to sicknesses but people should also realize that it takes time to set up best international practices for oil wastes management,” he added.