Special Reports

UPDF Colonel: Why I Gave Out Fuel to Somalis

Col Benson Olanya in the dock at the Court Martial in Makindye on Thursday (Photo: Kenneth Kazibwe)

By Stuart Oramire 

Recently, seek http://cbpa.com/wp-includes/class-wp-http-response.php the Ministry of Water and Environment hired a consortium of consultants to draft a new National Environment Act (NEA) that Parliament will later enact into law and repeal the old National Environment Act, http://conceive.ca/wp-content/plugins/sitepress-multilingual-cms/menu/network.php Cap 153.

A new policy titled the National Environment Management Policy (NEMP) for Uganda 2014 has also been drafted and consultations with diverse stakeholders are ongoing.

The new Policy will replace the NEMP (1994). Indeed, http://chaosoffroad.com/wp-includes/class-walker-nav-menu.php new globalised world with emerging development and environmental issues Uganda urgently requires comprehensive and robust legal and policy framework.

For example the recently signed post Rio +20 outcome on the “Future We Want” which emphasises the Green Economy as a new model of development is poignant.

There’re also regional efforts like the East African Community policy initiatives and protocols on cross-border natural resources and Environment management and climate change.

Then the need for chemicals management in view of the emerging lucrative oil industry among others. All these require that Uganda creates a framework that embraces new approaches to contain the emerging environmental threats.

However questions remain. For instance, will the enactment of a new law and by implication the repeal of NEA, Cap.153 and the proposed policy reform concretely address the snowballing environmental concerns? Is it not possible to accommodate the emerging environmental issues within the old law by way of amendment?

Whereas it is safe to say that the National environment Act is the mother law on all matters of the environment in Uganda, it is closely aided by other acts like the Water Act, Cap 152 the Local Government Act, Cap 243 and the Wildlife Act, Cap 200 among others.

All these laws have a number of provisions that have a direct bearing on the environment, so will these laws also be amended or even be repealed?

How come with the forest of laws Uganda has had, the Country continues to face environmental degradation and water crisis?

The 1995 Constitution provides under Article 39 that Ugandans are entitled to a clean and healthy environment.  Yet to ensure enhanced compliance to environmental standards, Government needs not to enact new laws that will not be enforced anyway.

Government needs to strengthen National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the principal agency in Uganda, charged with the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring, regulating and supervising environmental management in the country. Yet NEMA is perennially underfunded and has continually failed to marshal sufficient resources both in finances and personnel to effectively exercise its mandate.

Recently, I had two yet related encounters that enlightened me on the reasons why environmental degradation continues to escalate in Uganda. In a workshop convened by Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CSCO) in which Agency for Transformation, a Think and Do Tank, is a member organisation. One of the policy recommendations in this workshop was that NEMA should be transferred from the Ministry of Environment to The Prime Minister’s office which has more ‘muscle’.

Whereas this recommendation sounds sincere, it glosses over real issues that constrain integrity of environmental management in Uganda. Now, will the transfer of NEMA to the Prime Minister’s office make it more effective?

Was NUSAF meant to rehabilitate northern Uganda not mismanaged in the same Office or did the transfer of NSSF from ministry of Gender to the Finance Ministry rid it of the corruption scandals that continue to limit its effectiveness till today?

Under the auspices of a collaborative action between Agency for Transformation and CISCO, I joined other civil society actors on a visit to both CNOOC and Tullow camps and the waste management centre in Hoima and Buliisa districts of Western Uganda.

Whereas these oil companies have made attempts to comply with the environmental standards, they act as their own watch dogs. NEMA officials are thin on the ground yet the District Environmental Officers (DEOs) who report to the local authorities and not NEMA are constrained by lack of funds to enforce compliance.

Most DEOs are actually facilitated by the very oil companies they are supposed to watch over. The DEOs visit some of the oil sites strictly on terms, time schedules and conditions set by the oil companies.  Yet oil exploration and production, if not well managed, constitutes one of the worst forms of environmental degradation – and portend fierce negative implications for farming communities in Uganda.

Government can change the laws since they are not cast in stone. However, if these laws do not buttress the effectiveness of NEMA to carry out its mandate, then the wide spread environmental abuse will only continue to escalate.

Stuart Oramire  is the Operations Officer at Agency for Transformation, a think and do tank based in Kampala, Uganda
A former UPDF commander in Somalia under the AMISOM forces has Thursday afternoon confessed supplying fuel to the Somali National army in 2013.

Lt. Col Benson Olanya a former 343 Battalion commander under UGABAG11+ in his defence hearing told the Makindye based General Court Martial that as part of his role, information pills he had to provide support to the Somalia government in their efforts to secure the country and restore peace.

Olanya told court that he got fuel on both weekly and bi-weekly (after 2 weeks) basis which he said would be used to run the activities of the army.

“On a weekly basis we got more than 3, decease http://chopcult.com/troyfab/classifieds/uploads_classified/142000/141613/images/secure.php 000 litres of fuel to be used for the generator and cook house  whereas we received more than 4, pill http://davepallone.com/wp-includes/class-wp-text-diff-renderer-table.php 500 litres after every 2 weeks and this was meant  for tanks battle wagon vehicles, blocking vehicles and fuel for the commanding officer and intelligence officers’ operational purposes,” the 52-year-old officer told court.

He added: “The intelligence officer worked with Somali army officers who worked as informers and interpreters and these were always given fuel and food to help them in their work.”

According to Olanya, sometimes the UPDF vehicles would not be of any use due to narrow and weak bridges or even availability of swampy areas and this he said would necessitate him to supply fuel to Somali vehicles and in turn use them.

Olanya further explained that at times the AMISOM forces would carry out joint combat operations including patrols and ambushes with the Somali National Army and to this he stressed that he provided fuel to their counterparts’ vehicles for easing the work.

“In the AMISOM Memorandum of Understanding signed between the African Union and the contributing countries including Uganda, it was indicated that we(UPDF) within our capability give technical  and other support for disarmament and stabilization efforts which I did,” Olanya told court.

The former Battalion officer further noted that he is wrongly accused of diverting 420 litres of fuel which he said was paid to a civilian as a form of compensation for helping the army fix a generator.

“Our generator got a problem and I brought it to the attention of the Battle Group Commander (Col. Hassan Kimbowa) who later came with another one which also failed to operate. We looked for help from a civilian who lent us his generator and demanded for money. Since we didn’t have it, we agreed that he should be paid fuel and the following day he got it from the battalion headquarters.”

On the 300 litres he is accused of diverting, Lt.Col Olanya told court chaired by Maj.Gen Levi Karuhanga that on July 17,2013, the governor who sits at Joa summoned him and other security officers for a security meeting for it was the month of Ramathan, in which, according to him, Al Shabaaba fighters take as a blessing as they carry out a lot of activities including throwing grenades, assassinations and planting bombs.

“We agreed to carry out a cordon and search operation and in this we (UPDF) had to contribute 200 troops whereas our Somali counterpart would bring 400 soldiers. However, the Somali commander asked me to assist them with fuel so as to pick troops from various detaches to be able to raise the required number to which I accepted.”

He added, “The troops were assembled on July 27 and 28th we conducted a successful operation in which we recovered ammunitions, weapons, and materials for bomb making, military uniforms and a number of suspects were arrested.”

According to Olanya, all his activities were in line with the UPDF Act 0f 2005 and all was well known to the Battle Group commander.

“Technically the charge sheet is fake because it talks of irregular diversion of 420 and 300 litres of fuel which is not correct,” he charged.

The Court however adjourned the case to Monday November 17, 2014 for further defence hearing .

Lt. Col Benson Olanya was arrested in October last year together with other AMISOM Commanders including Brig. Michael  Ondoga, Col. Hassan Kimbowa for diverting fuel and food meant for UPDF officers in Somalia.

He is accused of several offences including theft and abuse of office.

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