UNRA to be scrapped in merger of government agencies

Muddy. UNRA executive director Allen Kagina’s convoy manoeuvres a muddy section in Bwindi National Park in Kanungu District in 2016. PHOTO BY EDSON KINENE

What you need to know:

Assessment. The President reportedly said the authority was under performing in rural areas.

The Cabinet has taken a decision to scrap Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and National Medical Stores and transfer their mandate to the mother ministries to reduce wastage of resources.

According to a source, the decision was taken in two meetings with the first held on August 20 and the last one on Monday last week.

The source said President Museveni was unhappy with the UNRA performance, especially in the rural areas where roads are impassable yet it is where majority of votes for his NRM party are.

Efforts to confirm the Cabinet decision with the Minister for Information, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, were futile. Two of his known mobile phones were switched off.

His deputy, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, too did not respond to our calls and message about the resolution.
The Deputy Director of Uganda Media Centre, Col Shaban Bantariza, confirmed the decision to reorganise government agencies, but said he did not have details.

“I know a decision was taken but I do not have details of how many will be affected or their status in the new arrangement status,” Col Bantariza said and referred Daily Monitor to the director of Uganda Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo for further details.

However, Mr Opondo did not pick our repeated calls on his cellular phone.
Sources said Cabinet decided that UNRA be disbanded and its duties reverted to the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The roads authority started operations in July 2008 and has been managing one of the biggest fractions of the country’s budget.

According to the source, the Cabinet also took a decision that National Drug Authority and National Medical Stores that have been independent agencies, be scrapped and their tasks reverted to the Ministry of Health.

The Cabinet also resolved that the boards of the respective agencies be dissolved.
All education agencies will also be affected and workers will have to reapply for jobs under Ministry of Education and Sports.

In the new changes, electricity agencies that deal in power generation and distribution will be merged later and reverted to the Ministry of Energy.

The Uganda Registration Services Bureau and National Identification and Registration Authority will be transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The sources further said Cabinet will introduce a Bill which will seek to repeal the various Acts that gave rise to the scrapped or merged agencies.

In July 2017, President Museveni wrote to Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda ordering them to make a plan for merger of government agencies which are becoming a burden to taxpayers.
He told Dr Rugunda and Mr Ssekandi that some agencies and departments be scrapped or merged in order to address “wastage of meagre resources.”

In the letter, Mr Museveni said he had been furnished with a report compiled by his party, NRM, which confirmed his suspicion that the “mushrooming government agencies” are a burden to taxpayers.

Mr Museveni did not specify which government agencies would be downsized, scrapped or merged but the Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, and Public Service minister Muruli Mukasa had up to December to propose a plan to Cabinet on how the proposed re-organisation of government agencies will be executed.