Government is seeking Shs2.5 billion to deploy the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) to secure the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
This was revealed by the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja, who appeared before the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.
The EACOP is a pipeline that will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.
The pipeline is buried and once topsoil and vegetation have been re-instated, people and animals will be able to cross freely anywhere along its length.
“Tanzania is ready; they have budgeted for security of the pipeline but Uganda is not . This is still a thorn in our back; it is an unfunded priority,” Ssempijja said.
Ssempijja who was defending the Defence Ministry’s 2024/2024 budget said that whilst theministry requires Shs2.5 billion for security of EACOP, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has not allocated any funds.
“We have a committee which I put in place comprising relevant entities, including the Ministry of Energy but they are all headed by Defense Ministry and we do not funds for security of the oil pipeline,” he added.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Wilson Kajwenjye said that government ought to prioritise security of the pipeline.
“That is unfortunate; it is first and foremost Uganda’s pipeline before it becomes East Africa. How can you not provide for its security?” he asked.
Hon. Simon Peter Opolot (NRM, Kanyum County) asked the minister to consider a partnership with the oil companies such as Total Energies to provide security for the pipeline.
“Is there any possibility of the partners also having interest in providing security,” Opolot asked.
The minister also raised concern over failure by Ministry of Finance to prioritise construction of Nakasongola air force airport, saying that it is a critical alternative to Entebbe International Airport.
The Defence Ministry sought Shs57 billion for construction of the Nakasongola air force wing airport but no funds have been allocated.
“Uganda is a landlocked country and if anything happens to Entebbe airport, we shall have a disaster,” Sempijja said.
According to the Budget Framework Paper, the ministry requires Shs9 trillion for the 2024/2025 financial year, but Shs3.8 trillion has been allocated, leaving a shortfall of Shs5.2 trillion.