Villagers Expose Shoddy Road Works; a New Community Access Road is constructed
Residents of Nambieso Sub County in Apac District frequently hold village meetings during which updates on developments are shared and issues affecting the community are raised and discussed. It was in one such meeting held in November 2013 that village Independent Budget Monitors (IBMs) raised the issue of shoddy work done on a 7kms Community Access Road (CAR) from Abuli Parish to Agweng lakeside fishing village in Nambieso Sub County.
IBMs are community members trained and equipped by The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAACC) to investigate and follow up on service delivery and local budgets issues at the village and sub county level. “We were very excited when finally money was set aside for the construction of a Community Access Road so you can imagine our disappointment when on the completion of what appeared to be a village foot path, the engineer in charge claimed that the money was finished and that he had done the job. A car could not even use that road”, remarks Willis Naganyi, the area Councillor and Secretary, Finance and Administration in Nambieso sub county. From that village meeting, it was agreed that the community leaders would forward the matter to The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAACC) in an effort to address the problem and bring to book those responsible for this shoddy work. On further follow up with the district officials, it was discovered that the Apac District Acting Supervisor of works and roads had embezzled UGX 18,156,620 meant for the construction of that road. 159 community members signed a petition complaining about the road works done and community members demanded that the road be constructed even before punitive measures were taken against the perpetrators.
TAACC responded to the villagers’ call and organized a rural community debate and District Integrity Promotion Forum (DIPF) meeting to address the issue. “It was astonishing to discover that even the L.C.V Councillors and Chief Government Monitors of programmes like the RDCs, DISOs, DPCs and IGG who monitor different projects quarterly claimed ignorance of the mismanagement of the road fund,” Jacinta Aruki, one of the IBMs reports.
Following the TAACC-led intervention; the matter was exposed through different local and national media. The Inspector General of Government (IGG) responded swiftly and went to Nambieso Sub County where statements were recorded from the Sub County leaders over the said road fund. The RDC of Apac District in a bold move gave the engineer one week in which to properly complete the road construction. Following that, the money for the road work which was initially reported as exhausted was ‘found’, a grader was delivered to the site and immediately work on the road resumed. By the end of April 2014, the road had been constructed to the satisfaction of the villagers.
Since then, economic activity has increased exponentially in Nambieso Sub County and the residents speak eagerly of the many benefits the road has brought them. Caesar Onono, a 49 year old businessman testifies that, “Before I used to have difficulty transporting goats that I buy from Amolatar District, but now with the road, the trucks come all the way to Agweng landing site to collect the goats.” Betty Olot, a 38 year old farmer adds, “these days our school-going children do not have to use an impassable footpath in the morning especially when it rains but more importantly as a farmer of simsim, I don’t have to transport my crop to the market because the trucks come all the way here to collect the produce.” That saves me a lot and increases my profit.” The area Councillor, Willis echoes the residents’ remarks on increased economic activity adding that the leadership now collects higher revenues, another benefit of having the road.
The road has been endearingly named Tom Road after the TAACC Executive Director, Tom Opwonya. There has also been a ripple effect as other communities flooded TAACC with reports of mismanaged road funds, some by the same culprit. TAACC is now following up on shoddy work done on the Etekiber – Agwenyere - Omwono and Abongomola Sub County Community Access Roads among others.