Access roads key to unlocking Obongi, Moyo farmers’ fortunes

A resident by-passes a pot-holed section of  Itula-Belameling-Lefori Road in Obongi District. The road is a link to various markets health centres and schools. PHOTO/SCOVIN ICETA 

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Farmers urge local authorities to work on roads that are in poor state in both districts

Farmers in Moyo and Obongi districts are banking on the government and local authorities to work on community access roads in the area.

The farmers said they are making losses because of difficulties in accessing markets for their products, most of which are perishable such as vegetables.

  A businesswoman at Ndirindriri Market in Palorinya Sub-county, Ms Florence Ojabaa, told Daily Monitor at the weekend that during the rainy season, most of the feeder roads in the area were washed by floods.

“There are a lot of interruptions in transport, especially along Itula-Belameling-Lefori roads. We spend hours reaching the market. And when it rains, we get stuck on the road and the perishable goods like fresh fish and tomatoes get spoilt because they rot faster,” she said.

Ms Ojabaa said there was a need for the government to prioritise working on the community roads.  “If we had well-maintained roads, we would even be earning more. Most farmers get discouraged from doing trade because of the bad roads,” she added.

The government is currently paving the national road of Atiak-Omi, which the farmers said could help drive the growth of the economy.

 Similarly, Mr James Draciri, a resident of Pamoju East Village in Aluru Sub-county, Moyo, stressed that investing in rural roads has a positive impact on farmers’ income.

“We face delays in the transport of goods...Without access roads, it is cheaper to sell directly to a nearby local market either on foot or by bicycle, which, however, does not make much economic sense since farmers hardly make profits,” he said.

The Moyo District Engineer, Mr  Alben Ojja, said they are struggling to raise revenue to work on roads that are in a poor state.

 “These roads generate revenue but a portion of that money is sent to the Central Government leaving many communities with impassable roads. [To make matters worse], the flooding during the last rainy season caused havoc to our roads and now people are feeling the burden,” he said.

Hajj Khemis Buga, the Obongi District chairperson, told Daily Monitor that inadequate funding for road maintenance has frustrated their efforts in improving access roads.

“Some roads are in bad condition and others are in a fair state. We have received Shs750 million of the Shs1 billion the government budgeted per district,” he said.

 Hajj Buga added: “Our major challenge is that we do not have road equipment. We have written requisition letters to the UNRA (Uganda National Roads Authority) Gulu branch and a few pieces of equipment were offered to start work on the bad roads from the Orinya-Kale-Lefori road link. And we are struggling with the second one from Itula-Belameling-Lefori Sub-county.”

Budget analysis

In the 2022/2023 financial year, the government allocated Shs178.5 billion to improve district, urban, and community access roads. However, Shs176 billion has been allocated in the 2023/2024 financial year to districts, cities, and municipalities for road maintenance, which is less than Shs2.5 billion compared to the previous year.