Lyantonde. Councillors in Lyantonde District have protested the return of Shs306.4m to the Consolidated Fund, saying the move has crippled service delivery in the area.
The funds, which the district failed to spend in the last financial year (2017/2018), were meant for extending water to three parishes of Kabatema, Nsiika to Buyaga at Shs91m, Youth Livelihood programme (Shs189m), purchasing murram for road works(Shs2.7m) and facilitating roads’ committee meeting (Shs1.5m).
Another portion of the money was for procuring office furniture for the district service commission (Shs6.9m), salary and pension payments (Shs7.3m) and purchase of fuel for the production department (Shs8m).
Led by Mr Geoffrey Agaba, a councillor for Kasagama Sub-county, the councillors claim the money was returned to the treasury because some civil servants intentionally refused to utilise it.
“Some civil servants implement projects where they expect kickbacks and from the investigations, we discovered that some officials in the water department failed to agree on how to utilise the money which ended up affecting other projects,” Mr Agaba said on Saturday.
The district speaker, Mr Ephraim Kamugisha, said they have directed the chief administrative officer, Ms Alice Asiimwe Rushure, to take punitive action against the said officials.
“Some people are occupying public offices at the expense of delivering services to our people. The CAO should save the district and take action against such individuals,” he said.
Mr Fred Muhangi, the LC5 chairperson, said returning the money to the treasury was deliberate as some technical staff are bent on failing programmes.
Mr Muhangi revealed that by the end of the third quarter of 2017/18 fiscal year, the district had already received almost half of the funds apart from Shs189m for youth which was released later. “Some civil servants are not patriotic, they get salaries but still put their individual interests first, this has to stop. Civil servants should think about serving the community,” Mr Muhangi said.
Last year, Lyantonde District signed a memorandum of understanding with National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) to extend piped water from Kalegero Village in Lwengo District through Kabatema, Nsiika to Buyaga in Mpumudde Sub-county.
NWSC had pledged to contribute more than Shs200m towards the project and Lyantonde District administration pledged Shs91m, but the latter failed to meet its part of the bargain.
Safe water coverage in Lyantonde District currently stands at 51 per cent and piped water in four sub- counties and one town council.
The areas with piped water include; Kasagama, Kinuuka, Lyantonde Town Council, Kaliiro and Lyatonde Rural.
The other two sub-counties without piped water are; Lyakajula and Mpumudde. When contacted, Ms Rushure apologised for returning the money to the treasury, but said the district will soon receive more money to complete projects which stalled.
“There were some few technical errors and delays in the procurement process for the water project. The responsible officers will be penalised in accordance with the law,” Rushure said
Lyantonde District suffers chronic water shortage especially during dry spells which sometimes forces residents to relocate in search for water and pasture for their cattle.
Early last year, the district council passed a resolution halting construction of boreholes in the area, saying it was a wastage of tax payers’ money since those that had been drilled earlier did not have water.
Funding. According to a recent report by WaterAid, Essential Element, Uganda is one of the 45 developing countries facing chronic under-funding for water, sanitation and hygiene services. At least 31 per cent of households in Uganda lack access to clean and safe water and 19 per cent do not have access to sanitation. Recently, the Water and Environment Minister, Mr Sam Cheptoris revealed that their target is to ensure that 79 per cent of rural communities have access to clean and safe water by 2020. Likewise, a 2017 Sauti wa Wananchi survey by Twaweza says eight in 10 households (80%) access water from an improved source during the rainy season, up from seven in ten (73%) in the dry season.
At all times of the year, households in urban areas have better access to clean and safe water than their rural counterparts. Similarly, wealthier households are more likely than the poor to access drinking water from an improved source.