Saturday April 26 2014

Butaleja residents reject Shs22b Doho project works

By Yahudu Kitunzi

Local leaders, including the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and farmers, have rejected the recently rehabilitated Doho Rice Scheme.
They are demanding an investigation into the expenditure of Shs22 billion on the project that is located in Butaleja District, eastern Uganda.
The leaders say the works were shoddy and they need a value-for-money audit of the project.
“There is nothing to show for the expenditure of Shs22 billion. The constructed roads are sub-standard, the water gates are weak and won’t even last for a year; I don’t see any value for money,” said Mr Abbas Agaba, the RDC.
He asked the government to set up a committee to investigate how the money was spent on the rehabilitation works.

“There is no sign that the facility was rehabilitated despite the fact that government injected huge sums of money. The only new thing is that there is a water reservoir which cannot cost Shs22 billion,” Mr Agaba said.
He said he would mobilise the residents for a public demonstration if government did not investigate the alleged scam.

The government secured a loan of Sh22 billion from the African Development Bank for rehabilitation of the 145-acre rice scheme. Summit Project Uganda was engaged in 2011 to do the works and complete the rehabilitation by October 2012.
The project was initially contracted at Shs18.6 billion which government later revised to Shs22 billion. The works involved construction of water gates to allow free flow of water from River Manafwa to the rice farms and six access roads for transportation of the produce.
About two weeks ago, the Minister of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu and Minister of Agriculture Tress Bucyanayandi handed over the completed project site to the farmers at Doho in Mazimasa Sub-county. Mr Agaba boycotted the handover.
Dr John Mudusu Kabasa, the chairman of Doho Irrigation Scheme Farmers’ Cooperation Society, said some of the works were not well done while others were not done at all. He said the cooperative society intended to hire their own experts to assess the work done and the attendant cost.

Mr Wilber Sagula, the officer in charge of the Doho Rice Scheme, concurred that the rehabilitation works were shoddily done.
Local MP Emmanuel Dombo (Bunyole East) said he would comment little since the Resident District Commissioner, who represents the President, had already given his position on the matter. “I asked them to give me Bills of Quantities (BoQs) but up to now, they have not given them to me. But I’m still pressuring them to bring the BoQs,” he said.
President Museveni is expected to preside over the official opening and handover of Doho Rice Scheme to the farmers next month.
But the farmers and the district leaders are planning a demonstration before the President to express their grievances.

Saturday Monitor could not get a comment from Jay Diamante, the site engineer of Summit Project Uganda, as his known mobile phone number was switched off.

Doho Rice Scheme
Doho Rice Scheme, started in 1962, is a government rice project owned by farmers. This is the first major rehabilitation to improve food production in the area funded by the African Development Bank. It is intended to benefit about 7,000 farmers.