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Newly appointed Leader of Opposition (LoP) Betty Aol Ochan has called for support and unity from all opposition members in parliament so they can push all push for good governance and democracy in the country.  

Amidst applause from majorly the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party MPs, Aol said that everyone had something to offer to the country and pleaded with her colleagues to team up with her to form a formidable opposition that will push for better alternative policies. 

 

Aol was making her first speech as LoP in parliament yesterday Wednesday afternoon. Her statement comes amidst divisions in the country's largest opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) arising out of a reshuffle by party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat.

Betty Aol Ochan addressing parliament

Amuriat was elected FDC president in November last year after defeating the incumbent president Maj Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu. In his first appointments after assuming the presidency, Amuriat dropped Winnie Kiiza, the Kasese Woman MP and several other legislators, who campaigned openly for his challenger in the race.

The changes have been described as a reward for loyalty to supporters of Amuriat, who was backed by former party president Dr Kiiza Besigye against pro-Muntu supporters. But Aol says the opposition in parliament is numerically disadvantaged and cannot afford to be divided in order to maintain relevance as a force that has the ability to hold government accountable.

She observes a need for dialogue to heal the wounds and divisions triggered by the reshuffle, adding that opposition members need to work together, respect each other and accept diversity in opinion.

According to Aol, the office of the LoP remains one line of defence for the people and especially a place to put government in check.
 
"On that note; while differences in opinion are healthy and should be encouraged, we cannot afford to be divided. We need every one of us to be together. Against that backdrop I'm cognisant of the mixed reactions that this recent leadership change, there is need for dialogue. We need to sit down as leaders and chart a way forward for the great for the greater good of the opposition," Aol said. 

Aol praised her predecessor Kiiza for putting up a spirited fight against the removal of presidential age and exhibiting valor and leadership when she stood with those opposed to age limit lifting all the way.

Kiiza on her part thanked fellow MPs for working with her and congratulated Aol for being appointed as the LoP. She pledged to work with Aol and give her the cooperation she desires in order to make the country better for all Ugandans. 

 

"I rise to heartily congratulate my dear friend, sister, colleague and honourable leader Betty Aol Ochan upon her appointment as the current Leader of Opposition in the parliament of Uganda. Honourable Betty, congratulations and I would like to take the same opportunity to thank you the Rt Hon speaker and colleagues for having given me utmost cooperation that I needed in my tenure as as Leader of Opposition. I don’t take it for granted that you treated me as a friend, you treated me as a colleague, you treated me as leader with dignity and respect." Kiiza said. 

It was a change in tone from Kiiza's last press conference earlier this week when she appeared to question Amuriat's appointments. Then she'd insisted that her term of office was supposed to end in December and therefore the reshuffle had come prematurely. She had also threatened to use any legal loophole to hold unto office. But addressing MPs on the floor of parliament yesterday, Kiiza attacked the media for having tainted her character that she did not want to hand over office to Aol. 

"Contrary to the media speculations and actually the article that appeared in the Daily Monitor. It was sad that the Monitor could come up with such a statement about Winnie the person and my character that I said I’m not going anywhere. Actually what I said was that; I’m waiting for the parliamentary process so that I can do the handover process to my colleague Betty. It was so shameful for the Monitor to bring that cover story, tarnishing my image. It was unfortunate and I condemn it in the strongest terms possible. Otherwise thank you colleagues, I want to thank the FDC party under the leadership of Gen Mugisha Muntu for giving me the opportunity to serve my country." she said. 

 

Kiiza said that she will hand over the office at an appropriate time. Government chief whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, congratulated Aol and assured her of government support. She also congratulated Kiiza saying that she did everything to defend the opposition on the floor of parliament.

First deputy prime minister Moses Ali said Kiiza was outstanding and that government supported her in a lot of ways. She singled out Kiiza's ability to visit Zoka forest and Apaa boundary where there is an ongoing dispute between Amuru and Adjumani districts.

Deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah read a letter written by FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi which communicated Aol as the new LoP. The other appointments confirmed include that of Kiira municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda as the opposition chief whip and Harold Tonny Muhindo the Bukonzo East MP as his deputy. 

Also confirmed are Rukungiri municipality MP Roland Mugume Kaginda appointed as a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Francis Mwijukye as a parliament commissioner, Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze as a representative at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). 

The others are Busongora North MP William Nzoghu appointed as a Pan African Parliament (PAP) representative while Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai Wamanga is sent to represent FDC at the African Caribbean and Pacific Parliament (ACP).

Oulanyah also confirmed the opposition changes at the committee level highlighting the appointment of Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi as new chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Agago Woman MP Franca Judith Akello as chairperson of the Local Government Accounts Committee, Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa as chairperson of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). 

However, Oulanyah said that the status quo on two positions of opposition backbench parliamentary commissioner and representative to the Pan African Parliament are to remain until the necessary steps for changes are followed.

The positions are currently occupied by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal and Agago North MP Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo respectively. Oulanyah said that the speaker's office was to make an official communication on the two positions.

4 months 6 days ago

MITYANA- A UPDF truck transporting weaponry has derailed at Kigalama on the Mityana- Mubende Road after its rear caught fire.

 The vehicle was transporting the arsenal to Karama Armoured Warfare Training School, according to Brig. Richard Karemire, the UPDF spokesman.

 “It was UPDF Low loader trailer carrying an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) on the way to Karama Armoured Warfare Training School. No casualties were registered,” Brig. Karemire said.

According to Mr Afirimani Viga, the officer in charge of the Police Fire Department in Mityana District, they received an emergency call at about 7pm on Saturday that the UPDF truck was being consumed by fire.

“We rushed to the scene and managed to save the lives of three people who were travelling in the truck,” he said.

Mr Viga said they are investigating the cause of the fire although he could not rule out tyre friction since the truck was carrying heavy cargo.

 

The armoured tank that was being transported on the ill-fated truck.
4 months 2 weeks ago

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health have stated that there is no vaccine-derived polio outbreak in Uganda contrary to recent reports by the UN reporter, an online publication.
In a joint statement issued last week, both the Health Ministry and WHO dismissed claims of a vaccine-derived polio outbreak spreading in Uganda, saying that there has not been an outbreak of the disease since November 2010.
“Like any polio-free country, Uganda maintains a high routine immunisation and sensitive surveillance against importations and against vaccine-derived virus until polio is completely eradicated,” the joint statement reads in part.
However, the statement indicates that neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo has reported cases of Vaccine Derived Polio outbreak near Uganda’s border.
In an interview on Sunday, Dr Bernard Opar, the Manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) said that the Ministry of Health has put in place a strong surveillance system to keep away the vaccine-derived Polio strain.
“In Congo, in Ituri region, there are cases of vaccine derived polio virus but we do not have it here in Uganda and that why we are keen on putting in place a strong surveillance system to keep it away,” Dr Opar said.
He said that Uganda has not received any laboratory confirmation of any caccine-derived polio outbreak in the past
According to WHO, Vaccine-derived polio viruses (VDPVs) are strains which emerge after prolonged multiplication of attenuated strains of the virus contained in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the guts of children with immunodeficiency or in populations with very low immunity.
“After prolonged multiplication, this vaccine virus derived strain changes and reverts to a form that can cause paralysis in humans,” the statement says.
According to WHO, low coverage of polio vaccine under routine immunisation is the single most important factor that leads to emergence of the strains of poliovirus.
Dr Opar said the Oral Polio Vaccine is extremely safe and effective in protecting children against life-long polio paralysis.
“OPV has been the vaccine of choice for over 195 countries, Uganda inclusive, that have successfully eradicated polio. It remains the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's (GPEI) recommended vaccine of choice to finish global eradication,” he said.
As part of the polio endgame strategy, countries around the world, including Uganda, according to WHO have switched from trivalent to bivalent OPV, which reduces the risk of VDPV and introduced at least one dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in the routine immunisation programme.
eainebyoona@ug.nationmedia.com

4 months 2 weeks ago

Telecommunications company, Airtel Uganda has started refunding customers who paid the 1% mobile money tax.

This month, telecoms; Airtel, MTN and Africell Uganda started charging 1% on mobile money transactions including on withdrawals, sending, deposits and payments after the new tax regime passed by parliament and assented to by President Yoweri Museveni came into effect on July 1.

However, the tax including the social media daily tax of Shs 200 triggered massive outcry in the country. On July 13, Museveni in a statement said that Ugandans who paid the 1% per cent mobile money tax be refunded as the the 1% levy was passed by parliament and signed by him in error.

 

He ordered the tax be reduced to 0.5 per cent and be charged on only withdrawals. Government also brought an amendment bill currently before parliament to effect the changes.

Following the president's directive, Airtel customers have started receiving the refund. Airtel public relations officer, Sumin Namaganda says that the refund process started yesterday Saturday, July 28.

Namaganda however declined to reveal any further details, saying that Airtel will issue a formal communication soon.  It is not yet immediately clear whether other telecoms; MTN and Africell have also adhered to the directive.

Officials from both telecoms could not be reached for a comment. Ben Abaho an MTN and Airtel customer says that he is yet to receive the refund.

He however welcomed the move to refund the money but urged government to always consult with the people before coming up such policies that he called anti-people and anti-developmental. 

Anthony Nuwagaba an Airtel customer confirmed receiving the refund but wondered how government let the 1% levy be charged in the first place if it was meant to be 0.5%.

 

He says he's worried this could be a ploy to hoodwink the enraged public and ease the public pressure before reverting to the 1% charge. 

Two weeks ago, the tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the three telecoms were sued at the High court for orders that they immediately refund the one per cent tax that they illegally collected from mobile money depositors.

The suit was filed by two concerned citizens; John Robert Tukyakira and Anthony Odur who accuse telecom companies and URA of illegally and erroneously collecting this tax.

It is not clear how much tax has been collected by the telecoms much as the Finance State Minister David Bahati claimed that government had raised Shs 5bn from mobile money tax and Shs 2bn from the social media tax in less than two weeks after the new taxes were introduced. 

 

Uganda Revenue Authority spokesman Vincent Seruma told The Observer recently, “We have no idea how much money has been collected since they started levying the two taxes as the telecom companies are yet to report back on how much money has been collected."

Officials from the two major telecoms, MTN and Airtel have reportedly huge losses following a quiet public stay-away protest against both the mobile money tax and social media tax.

Several mobile money agents have also reported significant drop in business while others have been forced to close shop altogether.

4 months 2 weeks ago

At the time, the sister only told her provincial superior and her spiritual director, silenced by the Catholic Church’s culture of secrecy, her vows of obedience and her own fear, repulsion and shame.

“It opened a great wound inside of me,” she told the Associated Press. “I pretended it didn’t happen.”

 

After decades of silence, the nun is one of a handful worldwide to come forward recently on an issue that the Catholic Church has yet to come to terms with: The sexual abuse of religious sisters by priests and bishops.

Nuns at Namugongo, Uganda

An AP examination has found that cases have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, demonstrating that the problem is global and pervasive, thanks to the universal tradition of sisters’ second-class status in the Catholic Church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it.

Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship.

 

The sisters are going public in part because of years of inaction by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in the 1990s.

The issue has flared in the wake of scandals over the sexual abuse of children, and recently of adults, including revelations that one of the most prominent American cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, sexually abused and harassed his seminarians.

The extent of the abuse of nuns is unclear, at least outside the Vatican. Victims are reluctant to report the abuse because of well-founded fears they won’t be believed, experts told the AP. Church leaders are reluctant to acknowledge that some priests and bishops simply ignore their vows of celibacy, knowing that their secrets will be kept.

However, this week, about half a dozen sisters in a small religious congregation in Chile went public on national television with their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns — and how their superiors did nothing to stop it.

 

A nun in India recently filed a formal police complaint accusing a bishop of rape, something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

Cases in Africa have come up periodically; in 2013, for example, a well-known priest in Uganda, Fr Anthony Musaala wrote a letter to his superiors that mentioned “priests romantically involved with religious sisters” — for which he was promptly suspended from the church until he apologized in May. And the sister in Europe spoke to the AP to help bring the issue to light.

“I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago,” Karlijn Demasure, one of the church’s leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and abuse of power, told the AP in an interview. “I hope that now actions will be taken to take care of the victims and put an end to this kind of abuse.”

TAKING VICTIMS SERIOUSLY

The Vatican declined to comment on what measures, if any, it has taken to assess the scope of the problem globally, what it has done to punish offenders and care for the victims. A Vatican official said it is up to local church leaders to sanction priests who sexually abuse sisters, but that often such crimes go unpunished both in civil and canonical courts.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the issue, said only some cases arrive at the Holy See for investigation. It was a reference to the fact that the Catholic Church has no clear measures in place to investigate and punish bishops who themselves abuse or allow abusers to remain in their ranks — a legal loophole that has recently been highlighted by the McCarrick case.

 

The official said the church has focused much of its attention recently on protecting children, but that vulnerable adults “deserve the same protection.”

“Consecrated women have to be encouraged to speak up when they are molested,” the official told the AP. “Bishops have to be encouraged to take them seriously, and make sure the priests are punished if guilty.”

But being taken seriously is often the toughest obstacle for sisters who are sexually abused, said Demasure, until recently executive director of the church’s Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the church’s leading think tank on the issue.

“They (the priests) can always say ‘she wanted it,’” Demasure said. “It is also difficult to get rid of the opinion that it is always the woman who seduces the man, and not vice versa.”

Demasure said many priests in Africa, for example, struggle with celibacy because of traditional and cultural beliefs in the importance of having children.

Novices, who are just entering religious life, are particularly vulnerable because they often need a letter from their parish priest to be accepted into certain religious congregations. “And sometimes they have to pay for that,” she said.

And when these women become pregnant?

“Mainly she has an abortion. Even more than once. And he pays for that. A religious sister has no money. A priest, yes,” she said.

There can also be a price for blowing the whistle on the problem.

 

In 2013, the Rev. Anthony Musaala in Kampala, Uganda wrote what he called an open letter to members of the local Catholic establishment about “numerous cases” of alleged sex liaisons of priests, including with nuns.

He charged that it was “an open secret that many Catholic priests and some bishops, in Uganda and elsewhere, no longer live celibate chastity.”

He was sanctioned, even though Ugandan newspapers regularly report cases of priests caught in sex escapades.

The topic is even the subject of a popular novel taught in high schools. In 2012, a priest sued a bishop in western Uganda who had suspended him and ordered him to stop interacting with at least four nuns. The priest, who denied the allegations, lost the suit, and the sisters later withdrew their own suit against the bishop.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama, leader of the local Ugandan conference of bishops, told the AP that unverified or verified allegations against individual priests should not be used to smear the whole church.

“Individual cases may happen, if they are there,” he said Thursday. “Individual cases must be treated as individual cases.”

PRIESTLY ABUSE OF NUNS IS NOT A NEW PROBLEM

Long before the most recent incidents, confidential reports into the problem focused on Africa and AIDS were prepared in the 1990s by members of religious orders for top church officials.

In 1994, the late Sr. Maura O’Donohue wrote the most comprehensive study about a six-year, 23-nation survey, in which she learned of 29 nuns who had been impregnated in a single congregation.

 

Nuns, she reported, were considered “safe” sexual partners for priests who feared they might be infected with HIV if they went to prostitutes or women in the general population.

Four years later, in a report to top religious superiors and Vatican officials, Sr. Marie McDonald said harassment and rape of African sisters by priests is “allegedly common.” Sometimes, when a nun becomes pregnant, the priest insists on an abortion, the report said.

The problem travelled when the sisters were sent to Rome for studies. They “frequently turn to seminarians and priests for help in writing essays. Sexual favors are sometimes the payment they have to make for such help,” the report said.

The reports were never meant to be made public. The U.S. National Catholic Reporter put them online in 2001, exposing the depths of a scandal the church had long sought to keep under wraps. To date, the Vatican hasn’t said what, if anything, it ever did with the information.

Sister Paola Moggi, a member of the Missionary Combonian Sisters — a religious congregation with a significant presence in 16 African countries — said in her experience the African church “had made great strides” since the 1990s, when she did missionary work in Kenya, but the problem has not been eliminated.

“I have found in Africa, sisters who are absolutely emancipated and who say what they think to a priest they meet who might ask to have sex with them,” she told the AP.

“I have also found sisters who said ‘Well, you have to understand their needs, and that while we only have a monthly cycle a man has a continuous cycle of sperm’ — verbatim words from the ’90s,” she said.

But the fact that in just a few weeks scandals of priests allegedly molesting sisters have erupted publicly on two other continents — Asia and Latin America — suggests that the problem is not confined to Africa, and that some women are now willing to break the taboo to denounce it publicly.

In India, a sister of the Missionaries of Jesus filed a police report last month alleging a bishop raped her in May 2014 during a visit to the heavily Christian state of Kerala, and that he subsequently sexually abused her around a dozen more times over the following two years, Indian media have reported.

The bishop denied the accusation and said the woman was retaliating against him for having taken disciplinary action against her for her own sexual misdeeds.

In Chile, the scandal of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, an order dedicated to health care in the diocese of Talca, erupted at the same time the country’s entire Catholic hierarchy has been under fire for decades of sex abuse and cover-ups.

 

The scandal got so bad that in May, Francis summoned all Chilean bishops to Rome, where they all offered to resign en masse.

The case, exposed by the Chilean state broadcaster, involves accusations of priests fondling and kissing nuns, including while naked, and some religious sisters sexually abusing younger ones. The victims said they told their mother superior, but that she did nothing. Talca’s new temporary bishop has vowed to find justice.

The Vatican is well aware that religious sisters have long been particularly vulnerable to abuse. Perhaps the most sensational account was detailed in the 2013 book “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio,” based on the archives of the Vatican’s 1860s Inquisition trial of abuse, embezzlement, murder and “false holiness” inside a Roman convent. Once word got out, the Vatican poured the full force of its Inquisition to investigate and punish.

It remains to be seen what the Vatican will do now that more sisters are speaking out.

ONE SISTER’S STORY — AND YEARS OF HURT

The sister who spoke to the AP about her assault in 2000 during confession at a Bologna university clasped her rosary as she recounted the details.

She recalled exactly how she and the priest were seated in two armchairs face-to-face in the university classroom, her eyes cast to the floor. At a certain point, she said, the priest got up from his chair and forced himself on her.

Petite but not frail, she was so shocked, she said, that she grabbed him by the shoulders and with all her strength, stood up and pushed him back into his chair.

The nun continued with her confession that day. But the assault — and a subsequent advance by a different priest a year later — eventually led her to stop going to confession with any priest other than her spiritual father, who lives in a different country.

“The place of confession should be a place of salvation, freedom and mercy,” she said. “Because of this experience, confession became a place of sin and abuse of power.”

She recalled at one point a priest in whom she had confided had apologized “on behalf of the church.” But nobody ever took any action against the offender, who was a prominent university professor.

The woman recounted her story to the AP without knowing that at that very moment, a funeral service was being held for the priest who had assaulted her 18 years earlier.

 

She later said the combination of his death and her decision to speak out lifted a great weight.

“I see it as two freedoms: freedom of the weight for a victim, and freedom of a lie and a violation by the priest,” she said. “I hope this helps other sisters free themselves of this weight.”

4 months 2 weeks ago

Kampala- The National Water and Sewerage Corporation NWSC has said it will in September start generating electricity to run the Bugolobi sewerage and waste water treatment plant.

Dr Silver Mugisha, the NWSC managing director, said besides treating 33 million litres of water daily before it goes into Lake Victoria, the plant will be generating 650Kwh of electricity, which they will use to run all the activities at the plant.

“We shall no longer be having the smell, which has been here. We shall generate our own electricity; we are already working with the private sector to produce briquettes that will replace charcoal; we are also manufacturing fertilizers,” Dr Mugisha said.

He made the remarks on Friday as Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda toured the plant.

Vision 2040 on track
Dr Rugunda noted that the treatment plant is a significant project towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and is aligned to the country’s Vision 2040, which envisages every village in the country having access to piped and safe drinking water.

“This project will make a significant contribution towards improving universal access of water to all Ugandans even those in peri-urban areas, which is key in the attainment of the sustainable development goals,” he said.

Dr Chris Ebal, the NWSC board chairman, said the corporation is resorting to green smart systems and technology wherever they have their facilities, citing the newly constructed headquarters in Nakasero, Kampala, where he said they are harvesting rain water to use at the facility and solar energy for lighting.

Strategic plan
Direction. The corporation also launched its plan, which outlines the activities the corporation will be implementing in the next three years. According to the NWSC board chairman, Dr Chris Ebal, the corporate plan is a strategic document that provides timelines and targets that the corporation is supposed to achieve.
sotage@ug.nationmedia.com

4 months 3 weeks ago

Three years into her appointment as Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) executive director, ALLEN KAGINA spoke to Zurah Nakabugo about her fight against corruption and changes made within the organisation as UNRA marks 10 years of existence.

Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) executive director Allen Kagina

You have been at the helm of UNRA for three years now, describe for us how you found the authority and what you have achieved so far?

In my three years of service in this institution, I have been addressing the challenges of lack of communication in the institution, lack of stakeholders’ engagement, accountability, lack of processes, lack of systems and many others.

 

I found the institution when it had done some work like paving and maintaining roads. It was doing what it was mandated to do but my coming in was addressing how the work is done. So, my entrance into the organization coincided with the commission of inquiry which brought out a lot of mis-management.

Some of my other achievements include, the board approving a new UNRA structure with a total establishment of nine directorates and about 2,000 staff members. Staff salaries increased almost three-fold for most positions. And over 1,400 staff members have been recruited.

How did you manage the incidents of corruption at the time you came in?

I also found when there was perception and incidences of corruption, and also found that we as an institution, we are not very good at communicating. Despite the so many achievements that were made by UNRA, it was only known within the circles of UNRA, and maybe the media, but the rest of the country didn’t know what was taking place here.

 

I worked at improving communication and becoming transparent in order to manage corruption. And for any organization that benefits from the treasury, which is the taxpayers’ money, it’s incumbent upon that same institution to report, and people know what you gave them, or what you have done.

What is UNRA doing about the issue of shoddy works done by contractors?

Some shoddy work occurs due to not having the correct contractors on job or weak supervision by UNRA. We are now building the supervision capacity of the staff, [to ably handle] accountability and reporting. The mechanism we use now for supervision is supervision team, not individual monitoring.

We supervise as a team to ensure that what we agreed on with the con- tractor is done. The team also has the environmental impact assessment team, social management team and communications team and they do a holistic assessment of the performance rather than leaving all that to an individual.

How do you assess the contractors now?

The quality of work is a reflection of who is doing the work. We are much careful now and strict in procurement. When we do evaluation, we are following the criteria we put out for bidding.

What are you doing to promote local capacity of contractors?

 

All contracts below Shs 45bn are reserved for local contractors and many local contractors are in maintenance work on roads and small bridges. Then 30 per cent of big contracts above Shs 45bn is reserved for local contractors. We want also to use such opportunities to build skills for local contractors.

There is an exercise taking place at UNRA together with the ministry of Works [and Transport], where we profile contractors, by looking at their performance, capacity, personnel at work and equipment, and financial capital.

Some Chinese contractors have been faulted for abuse of Ugandan workers, the natural environment and many complaints raised by the public, yet these very companies continue to receive contracts.

Why is this so?

We have an investigation unit; when such matters are reported by people, we use a grievance unit to start investigations. We have the inspection team of our project and work together with the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, which protects workers, to inquire and take action.

As UNRA marks 10 years of existence, what is there to show?

A lot, for example, the paved net- work has increased across the country. You can move from Malaba to Congo border on tarmac road. We are finishing some roads connecting Mbale to Karamoja, and in the next five-year plan, we shall do all roads in northern Uganda like from Atiak to Adjumani, up to South Sudan.

How many kilometers of road are paved?

By end of July, UNRA alone shall have 4,755km of road tarmacked yet there are also urban authorities that tarmac roads.

Our road network is 20,544km, but we have tarmacked the trunk roads and the next step will be moving to district roads which connect to communities with tourism attractions, minerals to improve businesses and industries in those areas. Some of the roads we are doing now are greenfield with new alignment such as oil roads, Kampala-Jinja Expressway, Entebbe Expressway and other roads which are murram, we shall upgrade them.

 

How does the problem of delayed land compensation affect your work?

Compensation is one of the challenges that we have faced in relation to delivering our mandate in time. This is because the land tenure system in Uganda leaves land in the hands of people and the government can’t construct a road without compensating people to acquire the land.

To acquire land titles of the road, you find when people have conflicts on the land; the Northern bypass was largely hindered by conflicts of ownership. There are people who have big land, without titles, others have fake titles while other beneficiaries don’t have letters of administration. We can’t compensate anyone without a title and this delays the work.

How are you dealing with speculators who buy land where big road projects are yet to pass to target compensation?

This is not something that you can control easily, since people look for opportunities and speculate when they hear that we are going to con- struct a road in an area and compensate people.

They start to buy land in that area and it appreciates very fast. To solve this, we use the chief government valuer to give the actual value of land to avoid people giving any value they want.

An aerial view of the completed Entebbe expressway

How are you fighting corruption?

We want to be a glass house where you can be able to look into the institution and ask us, how much or how long it takes to construct a road. Why is it that [someone] is paid higher in compensation than the other?

When we hide that information, it’s when we get worried. We are going to open a new website on which we can [answer such] questions. The second way to fight corruption is to put in place a mechanism where people report.

 

If people don’t have where to report, how will you know if the staff are corrupt? We have telephone lines such as 0414318106, 0414318101 and 0414318102 where any incidents can be reported. Corruption thrives where information is limited. When people hold information here as if it’s a personal property, we also investigate them.

We are transparent with information; let people come to UNRA and question us on our working methods, payments, [and] the procurement processes. Predictability is the biggest weapon against corruption. When systems are not predictable, then somebody can sit on your payments.

The systems we are building will allow us to give you client service standards. [We will use the] investigations unit that can even prosecute our own staff and also teach people ethics and compliance where people have clear instructions and know what to do.

What are some of the biggest problems of UNRA?

When we went through restructuring, we almost created a new institution because many new people came in, and the immediate challenge we encountered was capacity; we now have an intensive capacity building programme. Another challenge is that some companies that benefited from weak systems due to inadequate supervision and a poor procurement system are not willing to change.

We know this by putting out a tender and the whistle-blowers come through ventilators and windows, which delays the process. They go to parliament, ministry of Finance, ministry of Works and Transport, IGG and they stop us, to investigate.

The process which was to take six months, takes two years. But as you do investigations, and you are stopped from working, the people whom you are working with are suffering.

What does the law say about this?

The law on procurement is changing. You can’t come with administrative review and stop the process. The project will continue as investigations go on.

What is your work program in the next five years?

Our work programme is about Shs 5 trillion, if we are to construct and maintain all the roads on the program. We always have fatal road accidents and the first reason given is bad road.

Do you agree with this?

Do you think drivers can agree that they were in the wrong? Why do we get more accidents when the road is tarmacked than before; it’s because of bad driving, not bad road. Some roads have curves to slow down, but drivers don’t.

When we did operation Fika Salama on Mbarara-Kampala highway together with police and ministry of Works, the number of people we got with fake driving permits was frightening. There are many vehicles in dangerous mechanical condition and many young boys driving lorries under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

 

However, there are incidents where roads are bad such as sharp corners, poor surface areas, potholes and with no road signs.

What is UNRA doing to raise the confidence of development partners such as the World Bank who finance some of the roads? What is their assessment of UNRA’s performance?

I don’t know how they assess us, but I know we have good working relationship. They have been very supportive; they fund major projects like one of the longest road from Mbale to Lira and we have signed the contract. They are funding Kyenjojo-Kabwoya-Kyenjojo and Masindi-Fort Portal roads.

zuraneetah2015@gmail. com

4 months 3 weeks ago

Kampala-The Lwemiyaga County Member of Parliament has petitioned the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, to rein in on one of his senior officers for allegedly engaging in partisan politics in the just concluded local council elections.

In a July 19 complaint to Gen Muhoozi, Mr Theodore Ssekikubo states that on July 7, Brig Phinehas Katirima, while being driven in a UPDF vehicle, went to Lwemiyaga Sub-county headquarters in Sembabule District where village members of the NRM party had gathered.

Mr Ssekikubo claims Brig Katirima went with a purported list of NRM party flag bearers and gave Shs100,000 to each contestant, Shs150,000 for those at the parish and Shs300,000 to those at sub-county.

“When I heard of what was happening, I immediately went to Lwemiyaga Sub-county headquarters and indeed found Brig Katirima reading out names and giving out Shs100,000, Shs150,000 and Shs300,000 respectively,” MP Ssekikubo stated in his petition to CDF.

“As the area MP and NRM chairperson, I inquired from him to know what the general was up to, more so since he was a serving and senior UPDF officer. He told me to go away (saying) he was executing an assignment and that it was none of my business,” he added.

When contacted last evening, Brig Katirima accused Mr Ssekikubo of mudslinging others, adding that there is nothing wrong he did.

“I was on special duty. I was escorted by 10 policemen and four soldiers and I executed my duty, but he is always in the habit of mudslinging others. If I were committing a crime, would I have committed it in front of the district police commander and soldiers?” he asked. The MP also accused Brig Katirima of attending a meeting at the Electoral Commission (EC) headquarters in which 11 new villages in Nabitanga Sub-county were being queried ahead of the LC1 polls.

However, Brig Katirima said Mr Ssekikubo wanted to cause the cancellation of the villages, one of which was his (Bugasha).
The senior army official also said he attended the meeting after he had been allowed in as an elder to give advice on what was happening in his area.

“We went to the EC since we were battling over villages which Mr Ssekikubo wanted to cancel. Those villages had been established by government and gazzetted. He went to a local minister and managed to convince him that those villages do not exist in fact and law. One of those villages is mine. So, what is partisan about fighting for a village which is being fought by an MP who is in habit of mudslinging others?” Brig Katirima asked.

MP Ssekikubo now wants Gen Muhoozi to explain how Brig Katirima was assigned by his office to participate in the elections.
He also wants the CDF to explain the source of the money that he claims he saw Brig Katirima was dishing out to voters.

4 months 3 weeks ago

President Yoweri Museveni’s sister Dr Violet Kajubiri-Floelich has been sworn in as deputy chairperson of the Education Service Commission (ESC), a government authority charged with recruiting teachers in the country.

Dr Kajubiri took the oath this morning, July 20 before chief justice Bart Batureebe at the High court premises in Kampala.

 

After serving on the Commission as a member for eight years, Kajubiri said she has garnered enough experience that should come in handy in her role.

Dr Violet Kajubiri-Floelich taking oath

“I’m now a better person and that’s why the appointing authority (President Museveni) has put trust in me,” Kajubiri said.

She, however, decried the Commission’s limited budget as one of their major challenges. “We have limited resources yet there is a lot of pressure because of the job competition,” she added.

 

Ideally, the Commission is expected to recruit as many teachers and administrators to improve service delivery in the education.

At the same function, Johnson Malinga was also sworn in for a second term as a member of the commission.

The eight-member Commission is chaired by Haj Lubega Wagwa. Others include Dr Asuman Lukwago (secretary), James Kubeketerya and Hajj Abdulatif Wangubo.

Katureebe advised Kajubiri and Malinga to abide by oath they have sworn and serve diligently.

“You are superintending over an important commission because the teachers you recruit will shape the children of this nation so stick to oath you have taken,” Katureebe said.

 

The president’s wife, Janet Museveni is the minister of Education and Sports.

WHO IS KAJUBIRI?

In his book, Sowing the Mustard Seed (Revised edition, Page 3), President Museveni says Kajubiri was born in 1949.

“We do not know the actual day or month but we are sure of the year because when she was born, the Anglican Church was celebrating 50 years of being in Uganda and she was named Violet Kajubiri, meaning born around the jubilee…” 

While eulogizing his mother, who died in 2001, President Museveni said Kajubiri was struck by polio in 1955. As such his father was unenthusiastic about taking her to school reasoning that it was bad investment. The burden fell on the shoulders of the mother, who believed in education of the girl child and as such, solely saw Kajubiri through school. 

EDUCATION

Kajubiri holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Makerere University, which she obtained in the early seventies. She also holds a concurrent diploma in Education majoring in biology and chemistry also from Makerere University.

While working at Makerere University as a special assistant in the department of zoology, Kajubiri got a scholarship from Germany where she went to Hohenheim University for her master’s and PhD in zoology.

Since then, she has lived in Uganda and Germany, where she is also citizen. In her book, My Life’s Journey, Janet Museveni, says Kajubiri was married to German national Hilmer Froelich and the couple has four children.

WORK HISTORY

 

According to the ESC website, Kajubiri worked as a consultant for the state of Lower Saxony (Germany) on Education and Development from 2008 to 2009. In 2005, she was a member of the visitation committee that Museveni appointed to inquire into all public universities.

The committee produced a report in 2007 that recommended reforms but they were never implemented. In 2001, Kajubiri was also a consultant for Protestant Development Aid in Germany, where she worked until 2004.

Other organizations where she has worked include the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Kajubiri has also been a member of different boards in Uganda and in Germany.

Among them are; National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF-Int) and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Uwec), among others. 

mugalu@observer.ug

4 months 3 weeks ago

Close to 40 members of staff at the China- Uganda Friendship Hospital, Naguru face sanctions for absenting themselves from work and reporting late for duty. The affected persons, mostly medical workers, have been asked by the hospital management to submit written explanations stating why they missed duty for more than 15 days this month. A letter requiring them to submit explanations was signed and stamped by the hospital director bearing the names of 39 implicated staff.

Three of the people reported on duty for only one day, while the person who worked more days is recorded as having reported to work for 10 days between July 1 to 19, 2018.  Close to 40 members of staff at the China- Uganda Friendship Hospital, Naguru face sanctions for absenting themselves from work and reporting late for duty. The affected persons, mostly medical workers, have been asked by the hospital management to submit written explanations stating why they missed duty for more than 15 days this month. A letter requiring them to submit explanations was signed and stamped by the hospital director bearing the names of 39 implicated staff. Three of the people reported on duty for only one day, while the person who worked more days is recorded as having reported to work for 10 days between July 1 to 19, 2018. 

 

4 months 3 weeks ago

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