Bukomansimbi leaders occupy incomplete building to cut costs

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By ALI MAMBULE

Bukomansimbi became a district after it was carved out of Masaka in 2010 but without an administration block and office space.
The district has been spending Shs31 million annually on rent to accommodate the political and technical wing.
Overall, the district has spent at least Shs248m in the last eight years.
It is against this background that leaders on July 1 took a decision to occupy their own offices which are still under construction.
The offices are on a 10 acre-piece of land at Kabulunga Village, 500 miles from Bukomansimbi Town on Masaka-Sembabule road.

“We feel comfortable in our own building even though it is still incomplete. We have been spending a lot of money on rent. We shall slowly utilise that money [spent on rent] to complete it,” Mr Muhammad Kateregga, the district chairperson, told Daily Monitor in an interview.
“The problem is that some people look at the current situation and fail to envision what will happen in the near future. That mentality of renting space all the time when you have your own land somewhere must get out of our people if they are to develop at the house hold level and even in businesses,” Mr Kateregga adds.

Progress
He says the first phase of the construction is almost complete with a few things left like plastering, painting, wiring and tile flooring.
The district has so far spent Shs499m on the construction and more than Shs700m is still needed to complete it and big portion expected to be come from the central government.
“We also have many people who originate from Bukomansimbi and are now doing businesses in Kampala, Masaka and elsewhere whom we plan to approach and support this good cause,” Mr Kateregga says.

District leaders also have a standby generator to run services that require electricity.
Mr Musa Kigongo, who chairs the district works committee, believes that occupying incomplete structure will pressurise the technical team to swiftly find means of saving money to complete the headquarters.

“Although many of our staff and the public are afraid, the situation will normalise soon. Let us endure this difficult working environment on behalf of our people who will in turn get improved services,” Mr Kigongo says.
According to Mr Kateregga, had they taken the decision much earlier, the district could have saved part of the Shs248m spent on rent to construct new classroom blocks in many struggling public schools.

Most of the public schools in the district have since collapsed and for a few that still exist, enrolment is very low.
Mr Katerega says in the Financial Year 2016/2017, the district did not build or rehabilitate any infrastructure at the schools because all the funds were put aside to construct the headquarters.
The district education officer, Mr Patrick Zziwa says staff in his department are the most affected by the relocation plan because they do not have enough space.

“But we have hope that we shall all get enough office space when the remaining two floors are completed,” Mr Zziwa says.
He says the new building will have an auditorium to hold meetings with teachers.
“We used to hold our meetings as education managers in schools far away from the district headquarters, but now all such meetings will be held here,” he says.
However, the Resident District Commissioner, Mr Mukasa Kityo, is not among the officials allotted space on the new building.
When Daily Monitor visited the district headquarters last Friday, furniture for the RDC’s office was on the veranda where he currently operates from.

Mr Kateregga says it is not the responsibility of the district to provide the RDC and office.
“The space we have here is not enough for even our staff yet the RDC is meant to have an independent fully equipped office with all his team of security officers, including the district internal security officer,” he says.
He tasked Mr Kityo to officially inform his bosses in the Office of the President in Kampala to intervene.

“In all other districts, the office of the RDC is separate from that of the local government,” Mr Kateregga says, adding that it should not be any different with Bukomansimbi.
He says when the districtbought the land, they dedicated quarter an acre for the construction of the office of the RDC which would be done by the Office of the President.
“We also portioned an acre of land for the construction of the district police headquarters, but both offices are yet to be constructed,” Mr Kateregga adds.

RDC yet to get office
When contacted, Mr Kityo said he had to shift with other district offices when they were relocating to the new district headquarters because they had occupied the same building since the creation of the district.
“When construction of the office of the RDC commences, it will not be far away from here at the district headquarters, so, I found it convenient to move with them as arrangements are made to erect an office for the RDC ” he said.

Like many other districts across Uganda, Bukomansimbi draws almost 80 per cent of its operational funds from central government due to meager local revenue.
Recently, the district passed a Sh16b budget for the financial year 2018/19 focusing on health, works and education among others.

Monitor.co.ug

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