National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is struggling to recover a total of Shs5.5b from government institutions in Mbarara District which has accumulated over the years.
Mr Emmanuel Ekanya, the NWSC Mbarara District manager, says the debts have affected service delivery.
He says they have failed to pay workers, clear electricity bills and expand because of government institution’s failure to pay their water bills promptly.
Uganda Police Force, UPDF, Uganda Prisons Service and Mbarara District local government are the topmost defaulters, according to Mr Ekanya.
Others include Rwizi region and district police, UPDF second division barracks, and Kyamugorani and Mbarara Central prisons.
“Police is our biggest debtor with about Shs2.7b, followed by UPDF which owes us Shs800m, Prisons with Shs700m and Mbarara District local government owing us Shs27m. There are also other small entities that owe us adding up to Shs5.5b, ’’ says Mr Ekanya.
He adds that they have tried to engage police, UPDF and prisons officials at different levels but they claim the problem comes from inadequate funding of their respective ministries.
Outside Mbarara Town, NWSC supplies water to trading centres and villages of Nyeihanga, Rubindi, Kabingo, Rubaya and Biharwe.
“We have not been able to meet our target of expanding to the rest of the district because of this cumulative money in the government institutions and our wish is to ensure that all villages have easier water access so we hope that if they clear, we can be able to serve people better,’’ says Mr Ekanya. He adds: “Our target is to ensure that by 2020, every village has access to clean water through a 100 per cent service coverage acceleration programme but we are worried, government institutions are failing to clear their debts.”
Rwizi Region police spokesperson, Mr Samson Kasasira could not comment, saying he was not conversant with the matter and referred Daily Monitor to the Rwizi Region police commander, Mr Robert Walugembe.
Mr Walugembe accused NWSC of failing to use the procedures when dealing with government institutions.
“NWSC has a problem of communicating to government institutions. It should not communicate to government institutions through the media,’’ Mr Walugembe says.
Second Division Army spokesperson, Maj Peter Mugisha, advises NWSC to engage line ministries to ensure that their bills are cleared.
“NWSC is a government department and it has got a ministry, why don’t they talk with the line ministry, and that is where my contention is. If I have a problem with my wife, do I take it to the public before settling it internally? Of course not. Likewise NWSC has to bring this problem to the Ministry of Defence after we are all government institutions,’’ says Maj Mugisha.
He added: “What I know is that all along the Ministry of Defence has always cleared water bills but my advice would be, let them address the problem to the Ministry of Defence and permanent secretary in particular will do.’’
Uganda Prisons spokesperson Frank Baine says prisons need Shs8b but the government always gives them Shs3.8b, which leaves them with a deficit of Shs4.2b and they cannot pay 50 per cent of the bill in all prisons in the country.
“The problem is that we usually budget for Shs8b as water bills and we receive only Shs3.8b. So we are aware of the problem and Mbarara District is not unique but we are trying to address it,’’ says Mr Baine.
Mr Baine adds that the money has accumulated for more than four years and sometimes NWSC cuts off water, which creates a difficult situation for them.