On July 1, 2016, hundreds of people thronged Kakumiro and Kagadi town council headquarters to welcome the operationalisation of Kakumiro and Kagadi districts respectively.
The two districts were carved out of Kibaale District in the 2016/2017 financial year following a protracted debate in Parliament and heated pressure on government by local residents, leaders and other stakeholders on grounds of extending services nearer to the people.
Nearly two years later, Daily Monitor assessed the impact of the services extended in the new districts so far basing on the lives of the local people and administration services.
Mr James Musinguzi, a local retail trader and resident of Kinunda Village in Kitaihuka Sub-county, Kakumiro District, says the operationalisation of Kakumiro District has come with several benefits to the local people whose road network has been revamped.
The district secretary for works and transport, Mr Eriya Twebaze, says local the road network has ever since the creation of Kakumiro District developed nearly to 80 per cent.
He says most roads that were almost impassable have been rehabilitated and now traders can access the markets easily.
“You know it was a big district and we had several problems in road network with even some roads that had never been opened up like in areas of Kisiita, Mwitanzigye, Kasambya, Kihogoro, among others’’ he says.
He lists some of the rural community murram roads opened up during the first year of operationalisation of the district as Nturage-Nyansimbi-Nyamuha in Kasambya and Birembo sub counties, Igayaza-Kisiija-Rurosera-Kijangi in Birembo and Kijangi sub counties, Kamugaba-Kinunda in Nalweyo and Kitaihuka sub-counties.
Other roads which have been upgraded to murram in the 2017/2018 financial year include the Kyarukoka-Ruhaguzi-Rugoigo road in Kikwaya sub county, Kamusene-Rwembuzi-Nkooko road in Nkooko Sub-county, Nkoondo-Kijorya-Bukumi road in Bwanswa Sub-county, Kitaihuka-Kijwenge and Nalweyo sub county road.
‘‘We have been getting Shs700 million from the road fund, but we are now having more Shs300 million for the district road unit and more town councils have reduced the workload on the construction of roads,” Twebaze says.
According to the 2018/2019 financial year budget estimates, all the four town councils in Kakumiro District are set to receive about Shs500 million which will be used to upgrade roads there.
‘‘These town councils, since they are autonomous, will help us reduce the burden of funding their roads and now money will be channelled to sub- counties. The only problems is the torrential rains pounding our areas which have made it difficult for us to work on the roads and swampy areas. We want people to remain patient’’ Twebaze says.
Mr Martin Kiiza, a trader dealing in agriculture produce, calls for construction of more community access roads in rural areas.
‘‘For us as traders, we only want roads which enable us go and reach out to our farmers. The roads also help us avoid mechanical breakdowns of our vehicles. The district has tried to work on some of the roads, but we still need more to be worked on’’ Kiiza says.
The Kakumiro District secretary of production, Mr Godfrey Barugahare, says since 2016, the district has distributed 10 million coffee seedlings in a bid to alleviate poverty and boost commercial farming.
“We are even distributing coffee seedlings at a village level and you know people used to miss out on this entire programme because of long distance to Kibaale and all costs involved. We have also given out 25 heifers as a district and tried to balance them between the two constituencies. We also want to make sure that all these animals or planting materials should be distributed at the sub-county level so that people realise how transparent we are,” Mr Barugahare says.
Mr Barugahare says: ‘‘We are making coffee planting our priority and we want coffee processing machines for value addition and targeting market. I believe people will push out household poverty’’.
However, Mr Francis Mugisha, a local coffee farmer in Kibaati, Kijangi Sub-county, Kakumiro District, says much as they have received the free coffee seedlings from the district, they do not have extension workers to guide them. He says as a result, many coffee seedlings have withered.
Mr Medard Ahumuza, a councillor representing Muhooro Sub-county in Kagadi District council, who is also in charge of community services at the district executive committee, says the creation of the district has improved service delivery.
‘‘Our budgets for roads and distribution of farming items have also increased and this is evident on the ground because we can see the roads being worked on unlike when we were still under Kibaale District,’’Ahumuza says.
Kakumiro District is, however, currently facing a huge staffing gap in the health department following the expiry of contracts of 31 private health workers employed by Infectious Disease Institute (IDI).
The 31 health workers comprising doctors, midwives and nurses, were employed by the IDI, a non-governmental organization, to work along with those employed by the government in health centres under a five-year project dubbed: “Saving mothers, giving life” (SMGL) in the then Kibaale District in 2012.
The expiry of the project has, according to Kakumiro District leadership, crippled health service delivery.
The district secretary for Finance, Ms Grace Tushemerirwe, says the district is heavily relying on the funding from the central government because of poor local revenue collection.
‘‘We need money to recruit more health workers and as you know, we don’t collect enough local revenue’’ Tushemerirwe says.