The government is in pursuit of Shs2.5 billion to deploy the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) to safeguard the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
The revelation was made by the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja, during his appearance before the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Thursday, January 11, 2024.
The EACOP, designed to transport oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania, is an underground pipeline. Upon reinstating topsoil and vegetation the pipeline will allow people and animals to traverse freely along its length.
Hon. Ssempijja expressed concern over the lack of funding for the security of the pipeline, highlighting the contrast with Tanzania, which has budgeted for its protection.
He termed the situation as an “unfunded priority” and emphasized the necessity of Shs2.5 billion for EACOP security in the Defence Ministry’s 2024/2025 budget.
Despite the crucial need the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has not allocated any funds. Hon. Ssempijja noted that a committee, led by the Defense Ministry and comprising relevant entities, is in place but lacks the necessary financial support for securing the oil pipeline.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Wilson Kajwenjye expressed disappointment at the lack of prioritization for the pipeline’s security. He emphasized that it is initially Uganda’s pipeline before becoming a concern for East Africa.
Addressing the funding shortfall, Hon. Simon Peter Opolot proposed exploring partnerships with oil companies like Total Energies to contribute to the security of the pipeline. He questioned the possibility of involving partners with a vested interest in ensuring the pipeline’s security.
Minister Ssempijja also raised concerns about the Ministry of Finance’s failure to prioritize the construction of Nakasongola air force airport.
He underscored its significance as a critical alternative to Entebbe International Airport and revealed that the Defence Ministry sought Shs57 billion for its construction, but no funds have been allocated.
Highlighting the potential risk as a landlocked country, the minister stressed the importance of having a functional alternative in Nakasongola air force airport in case of any unforeseen issues at Entebbe airport.
As per the Budget Framework Paper, the Defence Ministry requires Shs9 trillion for the 2024/2025 financial year. However, only Shs3.8 trillion has been allocated resulting in a significant shortfall of Shs5.2 trillion.