Acholi chiefs fault OPM for ‘fake’ palaces

Sunday January 20 2013

One of the houses built for chiefs in Gulu.

One of the houses built for chiefs in Gulu. The chiefs said the houses are substandard. PHOTO BY MOSES AKENA.  

By James Eriku & Moses Akena

Several clan chiefs in Acholi sub region have criticised the government for building them ‘substandard’ palaces. The chiefs said most of the ‘palaces’ are unfit for habitation as some have already developed several cracks that could turn to be death traps for their families.

President Museveni in 2008 directed the construction of 54 houses after the chiefs pleaded that they needed to resettle in their original villages to enable them adequately mobilise their people for resettlement.

The Office of the Prime Minister under whose docket the project was implemented, had estimated the construction of each house to cost Shs200 million but some of the chiefs who attended a meeting at the Ker-Kwaro Acholi on Tuesday in Gulu, said each house could only be worth Shs50 million.
Mr Santo Okema, the programmes officer of Ker Kwaro Acholi, the cultural institution, said right from the start of the project, the institution was not involved in contract sourcing nor did they know how much each house cost.

Mr Okema said Ker Kal Kwaro forwarded its first complaints to the OPM in 2011 and that an assessment was done between their staff and those from the Premier’s office where it was found out that the houses were substandard.

He added that some of the houses with cracked floors and leaking roofs were repaired but, the same problems resurfaced. “All in all, the houses were not well made and repairs cannot be made on newly-constructed houses which have not even been occupied,” said Mr Okema.

But the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Pius Bigirimana, disputed the claims saying politics could be at play because all the chiefs had earlier acknowledged the ‘good’ standards of the houses when the keys were handed over to them.

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“What we know is that the houses were received with joy at the time although there were minor anomalies in fittings but those were corrected,” Mr Bigirimana said. He said genuine grievances would have been expressed during completion and hand over of the houses.

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