OPM accused of shoddy work in building clan chiefs houses

Monday June 1 2020

One of the houses built for chiefs in Gulu. The

One of the houses built for chiefs in Gulu. The chiefs said the houses are substandard. FILE PHOTO 

By CISSY MAKUMBI & STEPHEN OKELLO

Acholi clan chiefs have accused the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) of shoddy work in the construction of 54 houses, which were given to them by the President.

The houses, which were constructed between 2008 and 2013 by OPM, were given to the local leaders as compensation for loss of property during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.

However, the clan leaders claim the houses are not worth the monetary value stated by OPM. OPM, in their accountability report, valued each house at Shs200 million.

“Two months after my house was handed over to me officially, the cement on the verandah and floor started cracking. We contacted the leaders in the region to compel OPM to intervene but to date, we have received no response,” Mr George Owiny, the chief of the Latanya Clan in Agago District, said.

Some of the houses visited by Daily Monitor have cracks on the walls while some ceilings had caved in. The floors had also developed cracks while other houses have for long been abandoned.

Mr Latanya, a clan leader in Agago District, said during construction, he witnessed low cement to sand rations.
He said their pleas to OPM to have the mistakes rectified fell on deaf ears.

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“When I pushed on with my complaints, l was accused of frustrating government programmes,” Mr Latanya added.
Rwot Odong Lira, the leader of the Lira Palwo Clan in Pader District, said he is contemplating abandoning the house for fear that it might collapse on him and his family someday.

“Our colleagues are putting up in such dilapidated houses because they have no other option,” he told Daily Monitor.

“In our different forums, we have issued a statement on the condition of the houses, but we are yet to get a response from the Acholi paramount chief. We asked why such a huge amount of taxpayers’ money was put to waste,” Mr Odong added.

Mr Jimmy Ocan Luwala, the chief of Puranga Clan in Pader, said due to the cracks in the house, many of his subjects fear to visit him while meetings have been suspended.

The chiefs had, prior to the construction, requested that a team from Acholi cultural institution be co-opted on the government team to oversee the effectiveness of programme’s implementation.

The Alokolum Clan chief, Mr Peter Ojigi Oola, now wants immediate intervention from OPM to have the construction errors corrected.

The former programme coordinator of the Acholi cultural institution, Mr Santos Okema, said he was the first to complain about shoddy work before the houses were handed over to the chiefs.

“I raised the matter before the relevant stakeholders, but I was instead accused of failure to respect government’s interventions,’’ he said

Mr Julius Tayebwa, the principle assistant secretary in OPM, in a recent interview with the Daily Monitor said he was not in the office during the said period, but advised the chiefs to document their concerns through a petition to the permanent secretary.
The OPM head of communications, Mr Juli
us Mucunguzi, said they have not yet received a formal complaint from the Acholi cultural institution in regard to the repairs of the chiefs’ houses.

“We need to know when the houses were handed over to the chiefs and whether the element of repairing was part of the terms,” Mr Mucunguzi said. “If the works on the houses were shoddily done, why did the chiefs accept them, only to complain seven years later?’’ he added.

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Cost of construction
OPM in their accountability report valued each house at Shs200 million, although the chiefs estimate each house to have cost about only Shs50 million.
In less than seven years since they were handed over to the beneficiaries, the chiefs claim the houses are on the verge of collapse and pose a risk to their lives.
What OPM says
The OPM head of communications, Mr Julius Mucunguzi, told Daily Monitor that OPM has not yet received a communication from the Acholi cultural institution in regard to the repairs of the houses of the chiefs.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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