Teacher yet to get pension 15 years after retirement

MrJimmy Lukwiya displays the grade II certificate he used to join Public Service. PHOTO/ POLYCAP KALOKWERA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Lukwiya says he has spent a lot of money travelling to and fro Kampala following up on his pension at Public Service in vain.

Fifty four years ago, Mr Jimmy Lukwiya joined public service as a young man aged 21.

Two years later in 1970, he was confirmed into teaching service and received a confirmation letter, indicating his salary as well as pension and gratuity upon formal retirement.
However, 15 years since retirement, Mr Lukwiya, now 75, says his retirement benefits have never come forth.
The resident of Gulu City says he started as a grade II teacher and rose to the level of District Education Officer.
“I have the letter of my first appointment into service and it read clearly that I was entitled to permanent and pensionable status in the Uganda teaching service. But to date, I have never got my pension and it pains me that nobody wants to pay what is due to me,” Mr Lukwiya says
He says he taught in several regions in the country before formally retiring in 2007 from Opit Senior Secondary School in Gulu.

Only 16.3 percent of Ugandans save - BoU 
“Towards my retirement, I had a lot of problems as sometimes, my salary was not paid; sometimes I was asked to make claims, but they would not come through,” he says.
During his 39 years in service, Mr Lukwiya says he upgraded and attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education as well as a Master’s degree.
“I still went back to school to attain a Master’s degree, which I achieved from Gulu University while in service and all this was to better my retirement benefits,” he says.
While serving as Gulu District Education Officer, Mr Lukwiya experienced the effects of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, forcing schools to close in May 1996.
However, Mr Lukwiya says he mobilised teachers to teach children from different internally displaced camps in the area to prepare them for national exams in November 1996.
“The risk we took during the war for the betterment of the education of our children still comes back to me in dreams and makes me want to shed tears,” he says.
As confirmation of Mr Lukwiya’s efforts, a Daily Monitor story of April 7, 1997, titled ‘Beating the odds of war to shine in exams’ Gulu was ranked the best performing district in the region in the S.4 national exams.

Past achievements
“Much as we could perform, now nobody can recognise us and pay us our dividend. Right now, it’s my children who give me money for upkeep as if I don’t have what is due to me lying somewhere,” he says.
Mr Lukwiya says he has spent a lot of money travelling back and forth between Kampala and Gulu following up on his pension at the Ministry of Public Service.
“Towards the end, Public Service told me that the process of claiming gratuity and pension has been decentralised and requires me to come to Gulu but whenever I go to Gulu, they keep promising they will work on it but they have never done so,” he says.

Back and forth
“Sometimes they would collect my documents, saying they are going to verify from Kampala but still nothing would happen,” Mr Lukwiya adds.
Just like many other people desperately looking for their pension, Mr Lukwiya says he has fallen prey to conmen.
“I have wasted a lot of money, some people would come appearing to help and I end up giving them money so that the pension would come but nothing to date and a lot of my money has been eaten,” he says.
When contacted on Tuesday, the Gulu District Senior Human Resource Personnel Officer, Mr Dickens Thomas Opiro, said he read through the file of Mr Lukwiya and established that his vote of retirement is Masindi District.
Mr Opiro said they have advised Mr Lukwiya to process his retirement benefits from Masindi District.
Information on Mr Lukwiya’s National ID and birth certificate indicate that his date of birth is August 23, 1947, which means on August 23, 2007, he retired after clocking the mandatory 60 years.

What district says
“Therefore, his transfer letter came on October 18, 2007, after he had retired mandatorily and that means even Amuru is not the issue, The transfer from Mutunda SS in Kiryandongo District to Pope Paul VI Anaka should be nullified because the confirmation letter came when he had retired and this makes Masindi District Mr Lukwiya’s vote of retirement,” Mr Opiro explained.
He blamed the Ministry of Public Service for transferring Mr Lukwiya a few months before his retirement, saying it’s the reason for the delayed processing of his pension.
“The confusion is from the Ministry of Education by transferring him after his, they should have first studied Mr Lukwiya as their employee,” Mr Opiro said.

When contacted on Monday, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire, urged Mr Lukwiya to channel his complaints through her office.
“Pension is decentralised and the only thing he can get from the ministry is the status of the pension but let him (Mr Lukwiya) come to me in the ministry,” she said in an interview.
Govt efforts
The government in 2019 launched a decentralised system of processing pension payments to ministries, departments and local governments. The government said decentralising pension payment is intended to reduce time spent on processing retirement benefits, reduce extortions and abuse of office by responsible officers. Processing of pension has been marred by illegalities, with senior citizens forced to make numerous return visits to access pay they are entitled to. Many die without accessing the funds.

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