IGG to arrest leaders who return money to consolidated fund

Dr Patricia Acham Okiria, the deputy Inspector General of Government inspects children's park constructed under USMID-AF in Lira City West Division on June 14, 2024. Photo | Bill Oketch

What you need to know:

  • Speaking at a feedback meeting on the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID-AF) program in Lira City on Friday, Dr Okiria warned that those who fail to absorb funds will be interdicted and face legal action.

Deputy Inspector General of Government (IGG) Dr Patricia Acham Okiria has vowed to take drastic action against leaders of government institutions who fail to utilize funds allocated to their dockets.

Speaking at a feedback meeting on the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID-AF) program in Lira City on Friday, Dr Okiria warned that those who fail to absorb funds will be interdicted and face legal action.

"Some people will leave their offices not because I'm happy to punish people but because I want responsible leadership. I've been preaching these issues of integrity, responsible leadership, and some people have caused loss and they've said it is a devil but they have volunteered themselves to be containers for the devil to use," she said.

She added: “For me I cannot see the devil but I can see the person who alleges that the devil has used him or her. So, if they are keeping the devil in them, I take them and the devil to jail. And I will do that with confidence.”

Lira City has received Shs61.57 billion under USMID-AF but has failed to utilize the funds, with Shs36.69 billion returned to the consolidated fund.

From financial year (FY) 2021/2022 to FY 2023/2024, Lira City planned to spend a total of Shs27, 103, 926,906 under USMID-AF on roads, economic infrastructure projects.

A contract was signed between Lira City Council and M/S Al Nuaimi Group and Abubaker Technical Services Joint Venture to execute the construction works of six roads: Obangakene (0.08km, Shs969,184,178), Noteber (0.25km, Shs1, 262, 810, 072), Aber (0.204km, Shs2, 544, 042, 847), Olwol (0.53km, Shs 958, 548,017), Uhuru (0.3km, Shs1,869, 840, 640), and Boundary road (2.177km, Shs8, 629, 833, 847).

Altogether Shs35, 040,822,667 was spent on these six roads whose construction started on May 10, 2021 and were supposed to be handed over to the client – Lira City Council – on November 25, 2023.

In FY 2022/2023, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development again requested Lira City to undertake additional works to absorb uncommitted funds under the programme. The City Council then resolved to undertake beautification of Mayor’s Garden and Numa Ground or Tipper Stage, installation of new solar street lights, repair of existing street lights and institutional strengthening to a tune of Shs3,482,000,000.   

Out of the funds disbursed, Shs24, 952,747,052 has so far been utilised to make payments for the above USMID-AF projects. As of June 12, 2024, the balance on the USMID-AF MDG for infrastructure development was Shs11, 039,033,310, according to the IG monitoring and inspection report.

The USMID-AF programme in Lira City is expected to end on June 30, 2024, which is two weeks away. However, the additional works of beautification of Tipper Stage valued at Shs999, 069,000 and the repair of existing street lights (Shs300 million) have not yet commenced while other projects are still ongoing.

This publication established that the procurement process to source M/S Bygon Enterprises Ltd as the contractor for the beautification of Tipper Stage is ongoing and the project for the repair of existing street lights has been awarded to M/S Awico Engineering Company Ltd.

M/S Segamu 14 Consults Ltd and Hersun Consults Ltd were procured for consultancy services to undertake design review and construction supervision for selected infrastructure projects at Shs2, 168,700,000.

Dr Okiria emphasized the need for value for money, especially in a country facing financial struggles.

"When funds are secured and given to cities or districts, leaders fail to absorb it and the funds are sent back to the Treasury, it means you didn't need it. When the money goes back [to the consolidated fund), I will come here and take action. People are going to be interdicted because they have failed to measure up to the expectations of a leader," she said.

Mayor Sam Atul and Resident City Commissioner Lawrence Egole expressed frustration with the contractor's performance, with Egole stating that he would have terminated the contract long ago if he had the powers.

“We have suffered with this contractor. If I had powers, I think I would have terminated this contract a long time ago.”

Lira City engineer and project manager Freddie Owiny acknowledged that the contractor's documents and quotations were excellent but their performance was disappointing.