A coalition of civil society groups advocating reform in the transport sector have challenged government to come up with an official position on the fate of road projects recently suspended by the World Bank.
“Government should issue a public statement informing citizens what exactly caused the suspension of these two projects. The responsible contractors should also take responsibility and be prosecuted for their actions, especially those involved in sexually molesting underage students,” Mr Patrick Kayemba, the chairperson Civil Society Coalition on Transport-Uganda (CISCOT), said during a media briefing in Kampala.
CISCOT, which brings together 25 NGOs, also wants the Gender ministry to follow up on the alleged cases of sexual harassment to ensure that the culprits are apprehended.
The World Bank last week suspended funding on key roadworks in the oil region and eastern Uganda to force government to act on accusations of abuse of young girls in the area and sexual abuse of female employees levelled against Chinese Railway Seventh Group hired to work on the 66.2km Kamwenge-Fort Portal road project.
The road works include the 100km Kyenjojo-Kabwoya under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project and the 340km Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini stretch under the North Eastern Road-Corridor Asset Management Project.
The group also appealed to the World Bank to develop “alternative mitigative” ways of ensuring that ordinary citizens don’t suffer double punishment as a result of violations and loss of the development project
In a statement last week, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director, Ms Allen Kagina, said government had put in place a contingency plan to ensure that the projects continue to be implemented and the beneficiaries do not suffer any adverse effect from this decision.
Other demands include government carrying out an assessment of the loss “incurred to local farmers due to nonconformity to environmental requirements and possibilities of compensation for the affected families should be explored”.
In an interview with Daily Monitor recently, Works and Transport minister John Byabagambi said government was engaging the World Bank on the issues.
While they appreciated the work of the UNRA probe, the coalition called for a speedy conclusion of its work observing that recommendations of the commission were already being overtaken by events.