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This Week in Parliament

 

By Morris Dogga

This Week in Parliament is a column that brings events that unfolded in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly over the course of the week.

There were no much serious issues discussed at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly this week.

In their regular session this week, the parliamentarians continued with discussions on the issue of alleged oil pollution caused by the crude oil in the northern parts of the country.

On Monday 16th April 2018

Confusion over quorum halted parliamentary session as most members of parliament did not turn up in the hall though the deputy speaker Timothy Tot had said there was quorum for the siting to go ahead.

The session was cut short after the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Peter Bashir Gbandi believed that there were few members of parliament in the house.

According to Gbandi, some of the people who sat in the hall were not Members of Parliaments even though the deputy speaker Tot said there was quorum of 170 MPs with 145 present and 25 absent on permission.

However the number of MPs sitting in the Assembly hall did not replicate the quorum announced by the deputy speaker.

A recount was ordered by the deputy speaker to prove the number that was earlier presented by the clerk to him.

The recount showed that there were only 83 MPs present plus the 25 on permission.

The sitting was paused for a few minutes as there were still doubts over the actual number of MPs present.

After five minutes, a recount was conducted to determine the exact number of MPs present but still the number present did not constitute a quorum for discussions to continue.

The sitting was adjourned for later date though some parliamentarians wanted the discussion to continue.

Still on Monday……..

Despite the fact that the sitting was postponed due to lack of quorum, Juba Monitor noticed some MPs were reluctant to attend the sitting as they were seen chatting   under the trees around the parliament premises.

As there was confusion over quorum, journalists got confused as the personnel responsible to avail the information over the exaggerated number of MPs refused to comment on the matter.

The Chairperson of the committee for Information, Paul Yoane Bonju said he had no comment on where the other exaggerated number came from; saying the person responsible for the attendance was the clerk.

When contacted, Lodoviko Lual Aken the clerk of the Assembly also declined to talk to the media demanding a letter of introduction despite the journalists having their identity cards.

On Tuesday, 17th April 2018


Minister of Petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth

The Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth finally appeared before the August House after a summoned that was issued about two months ago over the alleged oil pollution in the country.

Lol denied the report by the parliamentary committee that about 70 containers of expired chemicals had been damped in Northern Upper Nile State.

Following the visit by the committee, the Minister of Petroleum together with other five other ministers were summoned by the TNLA over the matter.

The committee  headed by James Lual Deng Kuel, the Chairperson of the Committee on Petroleum, Energy and Mining, visited Paloch oil field last year for an urgent fact finding mission after receiving complains about toxic chemicals used for oil-drilling that threatens the lives and well-being of people around the oil fields.

But Minister Lol denied all the findings of the committee. He told the lawmakers that it was not true that there were toxic expired chemicals dumped in the area.

“We are supposed to transport them using the river, but because of the insecurity, we re-routed them through Sudan,” Lol claimed.

Minister Lol said the expired chemicals were not meant to be damped in the area to pollute the people and the environment.

The minister also disputed claims in the parliamentary report that a number of cattle had died as a result of drinking the contaminated water.

According to minister Lol, some cattle owners cut the fence where the oil spills were dumped. He said the cattle died after their owners made them to drink the water from the pools which they had already fenced.

He said there was no direct cause of death by oil pollution but admitted that since 2005, 14 people, 50 cows and 15 goats lost their lives as a result of drowning.

The petroleum minister told the lawmakers that out of the 14 people, four were children. “We did not count how many birds died,” he said.

He stated that the chemical the parliamentary committee had claimed to be toxic was not harmful and dangerous for human lives.

He said the Ministry created ponds where the water cut were disposed and that his ministry had compensated all those who had lost their lives and animals.

Minister Lol said after learning about the matter, he immediately formed a committee to sure that the chemicals were properly disposed.

The committee had claimed that it found 36 containers and boxes of expired chemicals which were not properly dumped by Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC) in the area of Adar County in a place known as Gumry Expired Toxic Chemicals Yard.

On Wednesday 18th April 2018, there were no discussions in the TNLA but normal sittings were expected to resume next week on Monday.

 

Speaker Anthony Lino Makana

 

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