Minister Sekindi orders arrest of locals vandalizing gov’t projects

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi 

WEST NILE: The State Minister of Water in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Aisha Sekindi has ordered District Police Commanders (DPCs) to arrest any person found vandalizing government projects.

The Minister issued the directive following numerous concerns raised by local leaders in West Nile over the increasing rate at which some locals are stealing essential items from government projects meant to benefit communities.

The concerns were raised during the official commissioning of three multi-million projects implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment through Water and Sanitation Development Facility – North in the districts of Madi Okollo, Terego and Koboko on Tuesday April 23, 2024 and Wednesday April 23, 2024.

The projects funded by the German government through KFW Development Bank include; the Rhino Camp Faecal Sludge treatment plant in the district of Madi Okollo but at the border with Terego, one water piped system in Kati rural growth center in Madi Okollo district and Keri-Oraba water supply system and sanitation facilities in Koboko district.

“Leaders have talked about people who vandalize our property and I want to thank them for raising this issue. Though we respect our voters, we can’t respect hooliganism. Those people vandalizing government property must be arrested,” Sekindi directed.

“One, they are denying service to other people because when they cut the pipe, the water will not flow to another place. Two, you are contaminating the water and as a result, you are making other communities suffer because of selfishness. Let us arrest them and they should pay for their sins. That is an order DPCs. Whenever we get somebody who is vandalizing our property, let us arrest that person to be taken to court so that others can learn a lesson,” Sekindi emphasized.

The Minister said the move will ensure that the billions of shillings injected by the government into projects don’t go to waste.

According to Eng. Yusuf Lule, the Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Water and Environment who doubles as the Deputy branch manager of Water and Sanitation Development Facility – North, the project cost for the Faecal Sludge treatment facility is more than shs2.5bn.

He said the money has been injected into the project to ensure that people within Rhino Camp refugee settlement and the neighboring sub counties have access to good sanitation facilities since it was discovered that people were using ordinary methods to treat their wastes.

“For Kati rural growth center, we have also injected about shs2.3bn in this project to ensure that there is clean and safe water availed to the population within Kati rural growth center and Madi Okollo district in general. The Keri-Oraba water supply system which also covers the sub-counties of Midia and Kuluba costs about shs6.6bn,” Lule stated.

The projects caused a lot of excitement among the members of the community who commended the government of Uganda and that of Germany for partnering to solve their water and sanitation needs.

Sr Asunta Ajidiru, a retired nurse and a resident of Kati in Madi Okollo district narrated that they used to suffer a lot due to lack of water in the area.

“Before this water came, people used to go and fetch water far from R. Ora which is about 3km away while others could depend on water from shallow wells which is shared with animals. Today, it is as if God brought this water for me. Children used to reach school late because they trek long distances in search of water for washing their legs but now children go to school as early as 6:00am because the water is within their vicinity,” Ajidiru said.

“Cases of domestic violence used to be common those days due to lack of water because women go long distances to look for water. When it reaches the dry spell of December, January and February, all women go for leave due to the fear of going to look for water. So, that made cases of domestic violence to become rampant in our area but now women are happy. I want to thank the governments of Uganda and Germany for bringing this water for us,” Ajidiru added.

Similarly, Flavia Ayimaru, a resident of Baito village in Okollo sub-county said they now have enough time with their husbands in bed as opposed to those days when they used to go and look for water, leaving their husbands to sleep in the house alone.

In Koboko, a line of women led by Aisha Ojaku also gave testimonies of how the water project has saved them from the nights they used to spend in DR Congo searching for clean water which came with so many challenges including family breakages and accidents while crossing into Congo.

She appealed to the government to make the water affordable for them so that they don’t think of going back to their old water sources.

Leaders speak out

Vincent Okot, the Oriema Sub-County chairperson commended the government for establishing the faecal sludge plant in the area, saying the facility will help in improving the state of sanitation in Terego and Madi Okollo districts.

Meanwhile Naphtali Kenyi, the Oraba Town Council Mayor noted that with the establishment of a water supply system in the area, the livelihood of the community is going to be improved.

“Reason being that the most common diseases which have been affecting our people have been malaria and Typhoid and I now know with the coming of this water, Typhoid is going to be reduced and time that has been wasted a lot by our women is now going to be reduced. So, our life is going to improve and we shall do a lot of economic activities,” Kenyi said.  

Swaib Toko, the Madi Okollo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) urged parents, leaders and teachers to let children know that the major cause of waterborne diseases such as typhoid is by not drinking clean water.

He, however, said having the water is one thing and making better use of it is another. Toko therefore, stressed the need to embrace handwashing in a bid to promote hygiene and sanitation.

Omar Muhamud, the Koboko district secretary for Water, Environment and National Resources called for the extension of the piped water to the Parishes and Wards which have not yet been fully connected.

Eng. Richard Matua who represented the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Water and Environment said for them as a family of water, they always celebrate when they reach such a milestone of being able to count Ugandans who have received safe water supply and promised to continue doing so.

Matua commended the engineers who undertook the different projects for a job well done and also thanked the German government for extending financial support for the successfully completed projects.

Jan Alber, the Country Director KFW, German Development Bank said it seems the level of education in the region is high and will even get better and stronger because the students now have new latrines, proper sanitation and water supply.

“So, I think we as KFW and also the Ministry of Water are proud because it is not only that the projects are serving the community but also the students for a better education and a better future,” Alber remarked.

With the testimonies of reduced disease burden and improved access to clean and safe water, Minister Sekindi urged the locals to now use the opportunity to embrace the Parish Development Model (PDM) program to alleviate household poverty.

The three projects were later handed over to Northern Umbrella of Water and Sanitation for operation and maintenance.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.