Government Seeks Shs2.5 Billion for Protection of EACOP and Nakasongola Air Force Airport

The government is requesting Shs2.5 billion for the deployment of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) to safeguard the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja, disclosed this information during his appearance before the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Thursday, January 11, 2024. The EACOP serves as a conduit for transporting oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania. Once the pipeline, buried beneath the ground, has its topsoil and vegetation reinstated, individuals and animals will have unhindered access along its entire length.

Ssempijja emphasized the urgency of the security issue, highlighting that while Tanzania has allocated funds for safeguarding the pipeline, Uganda has not, making it an unmet priority. Defending the Defence Ministry’s 2024/2024 budget, Ssempijja explained that despite the ministry’s requirement of Shs2.5 billion for EACOP security, the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development has not allocated any funds. He mentioned a committee, consisting of relevant entities, including the Ministry of Energy, yet emphasized the lack of financial resources for the oil pipeline’s security.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Wilson Kajwenjye, expressed disappointment in the government’s failure to prioritize the pipeline’s security, stressing its significance to Uganda before it extends to East Africa. Hon. Simon Peter Opolot (NRM, Kanyum County) suggested exploring partnerships with oil companies like Total Energies to enhance pipeline security.

Ssempijja also voiced concerns about the Ministry of Finance’s oversight in prioritizing the construction of the Nakasongola air force airport, a critical alternative to Entebbe International Airport. The Defence Ministry sought Shs57 billion for the Nakasongola air force wing airport’s construction, but no funds have been allocated. Ssempijja emphasized the potential disaster if something were to happen to Entebbe airport, given Uganda’s landlocked status. According to the Budget Framework Paper, the ministry requires Shs9 trillion for the 2024/2025 financial year, but only Shs3.8 trillion has been allocated, resulting in a significant shortfall of Shs5.2 trillion.