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Mbale City engineer Gimuyi grilled over Shs500m road funds

Mbale, (UG):- The City Engineer for Mbale in eastern Uganda Mr Johnson Gimuyi found a hard time explaining to the city stakeholders the use of 500 million shillings, a part of the 1.5 billion shillings in road fund money that the central government sent. 

During a meeting of the roads committee on Monday this week, the engineer failed to avail expenditure for the substantial funds allocated to road rehabilitation, particularly the shs500m that was recently disbursed in the second quarter of the 2023–24 financial year.

Gimuyi who was grilled by the local government leadership in the area including coordinators from the Office of the National Chairman in the Bugisu Region failed to bring the expenditure report, claiming that the system was down, which disturbed members. 

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The district or city roads committee, consisting of MPS and local government leaders, is mandated to approve budgets and workplans and provide oversight for the utilization of road funds envisioned to bolster checks and balances.

In response, the committee chairperson and Industrial Division MP Karim Masaba took decisive action by temporarily suspending the proceedings, pending the availability of the report.

Upon insistence, Gimuyi hastily presented a report, shedding light on the discrepancies between expenditures and physical works.

The report revealed a significant portion of shs370 million was spent on the purchase of materials, adding to shs250 million worth of material balances from the previous financial year.

Gimuyi attributed this variance to the challenges posed by the unstable electronic system, which he claimed hindered the efficient spending of funds, particularly for critical aspects such as labor necessary for the project’s success.

“We can’t access the labour money to pay the road guys because the system is on and off,” Gimuyi said, highlighting the system’s disruptive impact on financial transactions.

Mbale City stuck with unfinished Road Projects

Mbale City received a significant sum of Shs1.35 billion from the central government for road rehabilitation this financial year, along with allocations for the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development project.

Despite receiving substantial allocations for infrastructure projects, the city is facing formidable capacity challenges, casting doubt on its ability to consume the allocated funds before they revert to the national treasury.

During a recent meeting of the roads committee chaired by Mbale Industrial Division legislator Karim Masaba, concerns were raised over the slow progress of road rehabilitation works attributed to a shortage of equipment and the adverse effects of torrential rains.

The Town Clerk, Mr Ambrose Ocheng, voiced fear over the looming possibility of funds returning to the consolidated fund, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

Despite this funding, completion of the first phase of works remains at 53% as of May 13th, 2024, with the final release of USHS 850m (62%) awaiting allocation and implementation within the remaining six weeks.

So far 71 percent of the Shs1.35 billion remain unutilised. The first phase of rehabilitation focused on grading and shaping approximately 48.66km of roads, including additional works such as culvert installation, spot graveling, stone pitching, and bridge construction along the Mutoto-Bulujele road.

Progress by division shows the Industrial Division at 70 percent completion, with significant progress on roads like Mutoto-Bulujele, Munkaga-Busano, Bubirabi lane, Singapole, Lyada, Bukunarile, Kaguta and Munkaga-Malare.

However, the Northern City Division lags at 36 percent completion, with roads like Nankusi Nakaloke, Mutumba, Nankusi-Namagumba, Nabweya Bukikali, Bulweta-Bumalunda and Doko-Namabasa roads showing slower progress.

City Town Clerk Ocheng attributes the slow progress to a shortage of road equipment, particularly a grader.

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