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Luwero roads rot away as district fails to spend works funds

 Traders stuck in Nalongo-Kayonza road in Butuntumula sub county

Traders stuck in Nalongo-Kayonza road in Butuntumula sub county

There is an uproar against the poor state of roads in Luwero district yet money meant for road works remains sitting idle on accounts.

In FY 2023/24, the government disbursed Shs 1 billion to Luwero district for road works. According to a report by Luwero district engineer Robert Kalenzi, by the time the financial year elapsed, the district had only been able to spend Shs 500 million out of the Shs 1 billion.

The district carried out road works on Waluleta–Ndejje road (5.1km), Wobulenzi-Waluleta road (8.3km), Kikyusa-Kibengo-Manywa road (25km) and upgrading Lumansi swamp (0.4km).

The district officials also spent Shs 78 million on road inspections, inventory, office operations and meetings. About five roads and swamps which were supposed to be worked on using the grant remain unrehabilitated. Erastus Kibirango, LC V chairman of Luwero district explained that the district could not spend over Shs 500 million because the rains disrupted works within the first two quarters of FY 2023/24.

Kibirango adds that on resuming works, the district road equipment suffered rampant breakdowns and delays in the release of funds for the last quarter. Kibirango noted that by the end of the financial year, all funds had been committed to fuel, allowances and buying consumables for road equipment to ensure that they were not taken back to the consolidated fund.

Kibirango said currently, the engineering department is working hard to absorb all the funds before the release of more funds in the new financial year 2024/25. The district also received an additional Shs 179 million from the Uganda Road Fund (URF) but this remains unaccounted for.

However, the resident district commissioner and LC III chairpersons have faulted the district leadership for incompetence as well as for executing shoddy work. The LC III chairpersons had initially asked the district to send a share of the grant to each sub-county to work on their roads but they rejected the request.

Nuru Kijjambu LC III chairperson of Kikyusa sub-county and Edward Ssimbwa the LC III chairperson of Luwero sub-county said that instead they were asked to submit at least three roads to benefit from the Shs 1 billion road grant but to date nothing is being done. Ssimbwa explained that he expected the district to work on the Luwero-Kikube-Kagalama road but to date, there are no works and residents are bitter over the road's poor state.

Kijjambu said that the works done along Kikyusa-Kibengo-Manywa road using the grant are also not convincing to the residents. The resident district commissioner (RDC) Richard Bwabye blamed the non-utilization of road funds on lack of supervision, poor coordination and planning by the works department.

Bwabye added that he has also got reports that shoddy works have also been done on the few reportedly completed roads. Bwabye has asked the chief administrative officer to take action on the engineering unit for failure to utilize funds and executing shoddy works rather than hiding their weaknesses.

Bwabye has also written to the CAO asking him to submit a status report about the utilization of the road grant extended to the district. The District Road Committee comprising of members of parliament and district leadership is expected to inspect the roads completed and thereafter hold a meeting on the matter.

Denis Sekabira, Katikamu North MP says that some of the issues affecting road works are above the district's mandate hence needs to come up with a common voice to ensure they are corrected.

"As MPs, we shall need to find out why funds are released late and ministry of Works fail to repair the road equipment which is their mandate," Sekabira said.

Luwero district has a road network of over 1,360 kilometres. At least 628 kilometres of these are maintained by the district, 164. 51 kilometres by urban councils and 567.3 kilometres by sub-counties. However, the majority of the roads in the district are impassable due to potholes and culverts that caved in.

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