Police on Sunday blocked opposition political party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) from delivering relief items to the Bududa mudslide victims.
The truck with a consignment comprising mainly of food items was intercepted in Buwangani town near the border of Manafwa and Bududa districts. Bududa district police commander Esther Adeke advised the FDC team led by former party president Kizza Besigye to deliver the supplies to the district disaster committee first that would then distribute the items to the victims depending on need.
It took the intervention of Besigye, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, the incumbent party president and FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi to secure the release of the relief truck held for more than six hours.
About 60 bodies were recovered from Bududa after October 11 disaster when river Suume burst its banks triggering off floods that washed down everything in the path. Several people were left homeless and in need of essential items. Government emergency and relief response has been slow and inadequate, and even then, locals are accusing officials of misappropriating the little relief aid by selling it to the victims and traders.
Betty Aol Ochan, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP) says the police was informed that FDC top party members were travelling to Bududa to take relief items to the affected people.
"We were cleared by Bududa police to go and deliver the relief items to the Bududa mudslide victims but I am shocked that our truck... has been intercepted,'' she lamented.
Aol explained that there was an allegation that the relief items donated to the Bududa victims were being sold cheaply to the people within the community. Samuel Wanda, a resident of Bududa town reinforced the allegation and advised that the items should be taken direct to the affected people to avoid diversion .
Speaking during the handover of relief items donated by FDC on Sunday at Bukalasi sub-county headquarters, Godfrey Wanasolo, one of the victims said most of the items like food, blankets, cooking oil, mattress, saucepans and cups don't reach the intended beneficiaries.
He explained that since the relief items are first given to the district disaster management committee to deliver to them, they disappear before getting to the victims. Matiya Namaleya and Annet Wekoya, both mudslide victims, said they have evidence showing that most of the items are sold off by the local leaders to traders in the neighbouring Bududa town council.
They want donors and government to deliver the relief items directly to the mudslide victims. She said items like blankets, jerrycans, posho are sold at night to the victims and traders wishing to buy cheaply.
Besigye explained that they donated the relief on humanitarian and not political grounds. But Wilson Watira, the Bududa district chairperson accused the FDC leaders for exporting the defiance campaign to the district when they refused to follow the right channels for relief distribution.
He explained that the purpose of taking items to the district disaster management committee is to record and check the quality and safety of the items before they are handed to the victims.
He also refuted claims by the mudslide victims that local leaders are selling the relief items, saying whoever has evidence should be present it to his office for investigations. Watira is the head of the district disaster management committee.