Countryside Reports, Bushenyi

A cross section of residents and leaders in Bushenyi-ishaka municipality in Bushenyi district have waged war on technical officers at the municipal hall, demanding explanation over continuous poor road works in different parts of the municipality.

Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality residents assessing shoddy road works done at Kashenyi-Bunyarigi bridge. FILE PHOTO

This comes after they arrested the Municipal Engineer, and closed a five- kilometer Katungu-Rukararwe road in 2018. They had also halted construction of Nyamiko health center 111 in Nyakabirizi division in 2017 over shoddy works.

According to the residents under the umbrella- MAKE BUSHENYI GREAT AGAIN(MBUGA), a pressure group operating in Bushenyi district, several cases of poorly worked on roads and infrastructure have been discovered in the area, but responsible officers have not given a damn.

Cyclists attempt to dodge the fire that was lit by protestors on Katungu-Nyamiko road last year. FILE PHOTO

It is against this background, that residents powered by the Bushenyi district Chairperson, Mr. Jaffari Basajjabalaba have given a fourteen-day ultimatum to the municipal engineer to rectify the challenge or be dealt with. The ultimatum was issued on Friday, 22 February 2019 when Mr. Basajjabalaba blew a whistle over a poorly constructed bridge connecting Kashenyi and Bunyarigi wards.

Mr. Basajjabalaba was shocked to find that motorists and pedestrians using the road risked drowning in the stream due to poor condition in which the bridge was constructed not many years ago. He says, it has become a habit for civil officers to team up and defraud government of funds.

Residents touring the shoddy works at the bridge.

“This shoddy work is of the 2015/16 financial year, and the poor works have already shown up, and the bridge is a dangerous spot already. Civil officers have formed themselves into a mafia group form bottom to up working as a team to defraud government. That’s why such things have happened again and again, but we shall work as a team to fight this vice,” says Mr. Basajjabalaba

Mr. Apollo Lee Kakonge, the Executive Director of Western Ankole Civil Society Forum says, corruption in the municipality has become the order of the day yet no one including the technical staff seems to care.

“For the last five years, we have seen a series of complaints from the citizens and leaders as well, regarding misuse of funds meant for maintenance of roads. We had thought that after arresting the engineer in March 2018, the situation would change, but it’s like we are wrong.” He states

Mr. Kakonge adds that he vice will not stop because the problem is with government agencies charged with fighting corruption which have relaxed and slept on job.

“The biggest problem is with government agencies charged with fighting corruption which are not helping us at all. Unless the IGG or police take action, these citizens struggles will not achieve so much

The residents have amidst all these developments shifted the blame on political leaders in the area who have not done enough. They accuse the leaders of keeping silent as if nothing bad is going on.

“Members of parliament are very quiet as if nothing bad is going on. If I may ask, doesn’t this municipality have a member of parliament? Where is he? Mr. Kakonge asked

According to Mrs. Caroline Namara, a programs officer at Uganda Citizens Alliance and resident in Bushenyi-ishaka municipality, citizens have managed to expose irregularities in different sectors at the municipality and district, but their efforts are not yielding because leaders have kept quiet over and over again.

“We have been able to expose such irregularities in many sectors especially in the road sector, but nothing has been done. What are our leaders doing? It is as if we don’t have MPs. Should I assume that they share on the money that is being swindled? Why are they keeping quiet?” she wondered

When contacted, the area MP, Hon. Gordon Arinda Aka Cowboy told Countryside Reports that, he has not kept silent like his constituents are alleging. He said that he has played his part as a legislator by assisting in policy formulation as far as road construction is concerned in the municipality, adding that he has also advocated for more funding of the roads in the municipality.

“I have advocated and influenced the municipal road budget from 800-920 million and also sought improvement in the road network. If I fight hard to bring the money here, then why not get interested in having good roads?” he asked

He supported the idea of having the corrupt officials arrested and brought to book saying that the law is very clear and whoever misuses the money should be arrested.

The legislator however said that bringing the IGG to probe roads or arrest the corrupt officers is not his role.

“I have invited the IGG to come to Bushenyi and she is supposed to have come, but if she has not, its not my role forcing her to come. I also cannot become the IGG especially when the IGG has received complaints from Bushenyi” He responded

The citizens have tasked the responsible officers to respond or face their wrath. They have also vowed to continue trying as much as possible to bring public officials to book notwithstanding the challenges.