Residents of Jaana Island and Lwazi Landing Site in Bubeke Sub-county, Kalangala District, who have been saving money with two village saving and loan associations, are crying foul after the managers vanished with Shs43m savings, Daily Monitor has established.
Members of Birungi Village Savings and Loan Association and Jafiya Village Savings and Loan Association, reportedly learnt about the missing funds last week at a meeting convened to share their savings.
“When we convened as members that is when rumours started circulating that the manager had run away with all our hard-earned money. It is painful, but we are looking for the suspect..,” Ms Ruth Namukwaya, a member of Jafiya Village Savings and Loan Association, said during an interview on Monday.
The money is part of the annual savings of 38 members of the two associations, majority of whom are women dealing in silver fish business.
Ms Namukwaya said she risks losing some of her household items to local money lenders because she was expecting to use some of her savings to clear her loans.
“I was expecting to receive over Shs1m as my savings and profit, however, I was surprised to hear that there is no money at the moment,” she added.
Mr Tomson Ssekajugo, a member of Birungi Village Savings and Loan Association, said he had saved for 12 months and wanted to use part of his savings to acquire a new fishing boat .
“We are not going to rest until we get the manager, he must pay back our money,” he said.
A financial report by Kalangala District Local Government last year indicated that members of various Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in the district had raised Shs1.2 billion in savings. However, Shs160m had been swindled by unscrupulous managers of VSLAs.
Mr Willy Lugoloobi, the district chairperson, said to avert the current situation, the government should extend soft loans to islanders to boost their incomes and prevent them from losing their money in the savings groups.
So far, Mr Lugoloobi said seven VSLAs have lost millions of money to thieving managers. “We appeal to agencies like Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority to intervene and save our people from losing their money,” he said.
Last year, members of Bufumira Sacco in Kalangala District complained that they had recorded a loss of Shs137m .