“Money acquired through dubious means is not good, that is what my deputy here usually tells me, adding that if such money found its way to him, he would not use it to pay his children’s school fees,people who swindle public funds have generally ended up badly,” said Darius Nandinda, the RDC of Kabale during the Social Accountability Platforms training on CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative and use of the Infrastructure Monitoring Tool on the 26th June 2018 at Cephas Inn hotel. The training was organized by CoST in partnership with the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI) through the District Integrity Promotion Forum members of Kabale.
The DIPF is comprised of about 35 officials who include the RDC, CAO, district engineer, officials from the auditor general’s office, the Police, the Inspectorate of Government, the judiciary and faith based organisations, among others. This training was attended by 47 participants including (37Govt, 4 media, 1 CSO, 5 CoST).
The platform is chaired by the RDC and is a mirror of what happens at the national level and is meant to promote integrity at the district level, monitor government programmes, instill ethics in all sectors of government and fight corruption. Incidentally, some of the members of these platforms have been implicated in corruption and unethical behavior acts, themselves.
The RDC warned the participants of this saying that sooner than later, their activities would catch up with them, especially where infrastructure projects were concerned.
“Members in this room, myself inclusive; people are tired of us, we are not yet in court because we are a ‘powerful people’, but my friends, people are watching.
“The swindling of public funds in this district is appalling. When I was transferred here, I was told that Bakiga are open and straight forward people, but what I have experienced is the complete opposite of what I was told,” said Nandinda.
The meeting also sought to understand the participants’ understanding of the programme in a pre-meeting assessment. The day-long session was a follow up on the performance of the DIPF in Kabale. During this meeting, the Infrastructure Monitoring Tool from CoST was also introduced to the DIPF of Kabale district.
CoST and DEI were in Kabale district as part of a process to train officials of the District Integrity Promotions Forum on the use of the CoST developed Infrastructure Monitoring Tool. The tool, that is developed on the basis of the International Data Standard (IDS) has already been introduced to the four districts of Mbale, Gulu, Arua and Wakiso.
Plans are underway to roll out the same document to the other 72 districts in which DEI has a presence or an operational DIPF. The tool will also be rolled out with the ministry of Works of Transport to monitor all public infrastructure projects under the works ministry. The tool can also be used to monitor private infrastructure projects.
Kabale is one of the oldest districts in Uganda. It enjoys municipal council status and has a considerable population, but is plagued by the same infrastructure challenges that several districts in Uganda of the same size and stature face. These challenges are a failing public infrastructure system, a population explosion in relation to available amenities and a less than proportionate expansion of these amenities.
The district engineer, Twinama Muhunda, says the Government of Uganda is trying its best, but that effort was not good enough. “There are challenges especially funding, look at the road network, we have about 360km that need to be maintained annually, but when you look at the money we receive, we are expected to spend about sh700,000 per kilometer on works and maintenance and yet the national average is several times more than this. “The communities out there expect us to give them a first class road and yet we cannot even afford light maintenance,” narrated Muhunda.
This is where CoST’s core features come into play. During the meeting, the engineer was reminded that it was not a crime to under perform especially where the resources were in limited supply, but with disclosure of such information, for instance, the population that he seeks to build better infrastructure for would understand that his hands were tied and not much could be achieved especially on the local government projects.