“In Wakiso, I have seen politicians make things happen, in KIRA there was a politician called MameritoMugerwa who, regardless of one’s friendship to him or not, if things were done irregularly, he would take a stand, sometimes even demolishing property,” said Sam Mwesigwa, the district engineer for Wakiso district.
Eng. Mwesigwa made the remarks while addressing Wakiso district officials on the needs of transparency and disclosure at the launch of the Wakiso district integrity promotions forum in Wakiso recently. The launch was organized by CoST in conjunction with the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity.
Mamerito Mugerwa was a local council leader in Kira division of Wakiso before it was elevated to a municipal council. He put in place a number of infrastructure projects, many of which are still in existence to date. “I have noted the same in Wakiso today, politicians do not politicize infrastructure projects. Should you rush to the Police because your structure has been demolished, one of the first questions you will be asked is if you had an approved plan, the other being if you were building in the road reserve,” narrated Mwesigwa.
The engineer was one of the first people in Wakiso district local government to embrace CoST and what it stands for. Wakiso has since been a shining example for the benefits of embracing CoST. Apart from being a model district, the engagements between CoST and Wakiso has yielded much including high level discussions that have led to a revision of the road works budget given to Wakiso by the Uganda Road Fund.
“Our budget has been scaled up from an average of sh1.3b to about sh3.5b to address some of the issues that have been impeding the delivery of infrastructure projects. I am grateful to CoST for the tireless effort dedicated towards the attainment of this,” said EngMwesigwa
Some of the things that he said would be on top of his priority list would be to embark on the widening of roads. The number of people living in Wakiso has gone up exponentially over the last few years, and if the roads are not widened today, the challenges being faced by those in Kampala and Wakiso today will be extreme in the not so distant future.
Wakiso maintains 536km of district roads and these do not include the roads in the 5 municipal councils that it over sees. Previously, the task had been allocated sh1.3b for maintenance, including labour-based maintenance of slashing along the roads, cleaning culverts, minor grading of roads and spot improvements in sections of the road that may have been damaged.
The money was insufficient even when added to the road rehabilitation grant that was provided by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of sh9.5b. This grant has been used to upgrade some of the strategic roads from earth to paved roads. “This is part of the money we have been using over the last three years for the Namasuba-Ndejje-Kitiiko road, the Ssebuuka Road, the Nansana-Wamala road and the consultants for designing and supervision of these roads works,” said the engineer.
It should be noted, however, that the amount of money that Wakiso district gets is much more compared to what other districts get, but the output, because of the cost per kilometre of asphalt in Wakiso is about sh2b, this is not the case in other districts, where it is lower, but this also means that one is only capable of working on only 3-4kms, a year, but you have a contract of 10kms. At this rate, you are looking at 3 years, and this is on the assumption that you are working on nothing else, but this particular contract. “About road equipment, we have had an old, over utilised unit that has broken down more than it works, however, the government has given us a new unit and we hope it will deliver better than the older one, the rest of the equipment for rehabilitation, we get from the works ministry,” narrated Mwesigwa.
The district has also received basic road works units. A unit has a two trucks, a wheel loader, grader, compressor and a water bowser, however, this, according to Mwesigwa, is still not adequate given the number of kilometres he and his team have to contend with. “Recently we handled the grading of 261km, if you are to use that grader to achieve your purpose then you cannot give it to anybody else, that means we cannot give it to another sub-county or town council and yet we have to share it with them.
“However, with the IMT that we have just been trained to use, we are certain that the optimal use of the limited road equipment can be achieved, for instance on days when we can let the equipment go elsewhere we shall be monitoring one area or another,” he said.
Other district officials who were present at the training shared their concerns with Mwesigwa, the vice chairperson for instance, she would institute a council minute to have the CoST IMT adopted as the document for monitoring all district infrastructure projects. There was a concern, however, that the municipal councils had detached themselves from the district and were not attending district meetings. A fact that drags the district back from its otherwise productive path.
The members that were trained on the use of the IMT were broken up into two groups in which they exhibited competencies in the use of the tool, the pseudo projects they monitored answered all the key questions and promised to offer better results when tested on actual projects. “This is not a tool for wicth hunting those you do not agree with, do not use it for the purpose of undermining each other or finding fault, use it to better the infrastructure projects in your societies, not to score political points,” said Luke Lokuda, the district CAO.