How bad roads have turned fortune for Zombo youths

Youths push a government vehicle on a muddy-slippery spot at Nyagak Hill in Zombo District on November 27, 2023. PHOTO/PATRICK OKABA.

What you need to know:

  • One of them identified as Charles Ongom told Monitor that that they earn more money from government vehicles "since the leaders have failed to deliver services."

Continued downpour that has left roads devastated has turned out to be a fortune for several youths in Zombo District.

Area youths now leave their homes as early as 6am to camp at the roadside waiting for vehicles and motorcycles to get stuck on the muddy road.

Once a driver or rider fails to maneuver through the poor roads, energetic young men get in numbers to push the road users over dangerous spots at a cost.

Some of the poor road sections include Nyagak Hill in Mathawele village, Oyeyo parish in Nyapea Sub- County.  

On Monday, Zombo District Health Officer Mark Bramali reportedly paid Shs100,000 to more than six youths who struggled for over 30minutes to remove his car from the mud on Nyagak Hill.  

The youths, who have named their group “Sweat to Earn”, have since shifted their stage nearer to the death traps on the roads with some of them engaged in filling potholes.

One of them identified as Charles Ongom told Monitorthat that they earn more money from government vehicles on grounds that the leaders have failed to deliver services.

“On a rainy day, we collect about Shs500,000 which helps us to save and buy food for our families. We have been crying for this road to be tarmacked but in vain,” he said on Tuesday morning. 

According to him, they charge government vehicles between Shs100, 000-Shs150,000 while owners of private cars pay Shs30,000 to Shs50,000.

Another youth, Albert Ofoimungu said: “We are not stealing from people but providing local services to the travelers including civil servants who are reporting to their duty stations.”

Athuma Sub-County councillor Francis Bolingo blamed failed service delivery for a surge in accidents on the road.  

”It is a shame to the district leaders because it is now a common practice by the youth to put a roadblock on the bad spot of the roads to earn money from travellers,” Bolingo noted.

The pressure to tarmac the Zombo roads has failed to yield fruits for over 30 years now.

Recently, State Minister for Works and Transport Musa Ecweru told NTV Uganda that the country has run short of funds to carry out road works on all damaged roads and bridges across Uganda.