Martyrs Day: Organisers decry Shs1.5b budget deficit

217 pilgrims from Kamuli District were ushered into St Joseph Rubaga Parish, Jinja Diocese on May 28 ahead of their official flag-off to Uganda Martyrs Shrines Namugongo on May 29, 2023. PHOTO/DENIS EDEMA

Jinja Catholic Diocese, the organisers of this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations, say they are yet to find Shs1.5b, four days to the June 3 function.

The Diocesan Head of Finance, Fr Gerald Buto, said a budget of Shs2.3b had been earmarked for the celebrations at the Martyrs shrine in Namugongo, Wakiso District.

“As the organising committee, we have so far collected Shs800m out of more than Shs2b that we anticipate to use and for that reason, we have decided to adjust the budget,” Fr Buto said in an interview on Saturday.

According to Fr Buto,  of the Shs800m that has been collected, Shs300m has been contributed from local sources within the diocese, while Shs500m has been raised from external sources.

He said: “The money from the government as promised by the President is still missing although there is hope that it will reach soon. The government contribution, which is expected to cover the biggest percentage, is being hampered by bureaucracy.”

Fr Paul Wandera Okello, the spokesperson of the organising committee, said  about 10,000 pilgrims from Jinja Diocese will be flagged off today by Bishop Charles Martin Wamika.

The Forum for Democratic Change’s  Vice President for Eastern Uganda, Ms Proscovia Salaam Musumba,  said: “We [Busoga Sub-region] must capitalise on this opportunity to serve, be heard internationally.”

She also urged Busoga Dioceses (Catholic and Anglican) to use the Martyrs’ Day celebrations to remind the government about its commitment to upgrade their sites for religious tourism.

Ms Veronica Babirye Kadogo,  an East African Legislative Assembly MP, said this is an opportunity for Busoga to upgrade their sites such as Bishop Hannington shrine in Mayuge District to international standards.

Rev Canon Irongo Charles, the caretaker of Bishop James Hannington Shrine in Kyando, Mayuge District, said the government has fulfilled its pledge of tarmacking the road leading to the shrine.
He added that basic infrastructure is in place, including Hotel Century Hannington Resort Cottages, which has  40 rooms.

Compiled by Philip Wafula, Abubaker Kirunda, Sam Opio Caleb & Denis Edema