What you need to know:
- Healthcare dilemma. Locals revealed that some pregnant mothers deliver on their way to health centre while others deliver at home.
The state of many feeder roads in Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts that make up the Sebei Sub-region paints a rough picture of what locals go through to access social services.
Sebei is one of Uganda’s food baskets and home to many athletics gold medalists.
The feeder roads have now worsened following the ongoing rainy season that has rendered them impassable.
However, Uganda Revenue Authority is doing a great job on the 73km Kapchorwa-Bukwo road. The road that links all the three districts of Sebei is expected to be completed in December.
Ms Jane Chemutai, a businesswoman in Sebei, says the poor state of feeder roads taint a negative picture of the local government despite ongoing tarmacking of the Kapchorwa-Bukwo road.
“Patients are dying before reaching health facilities. Fresh food stuffs such as Irish potatoes and tomatoes are rotting on the way because farmers cannot access markets,”Ms Chemutai says.
Agriculture is the main economic activity in Sebei with farmers engaging mostly in subsistence farming to feed their families and selling the surplus to raise money for education and health bills.
The main crops grown are Irish potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, onions, and maize.
Some of the horrible roads include Kapchesombe, Siron-mokoto, Kaptokwoi-Tarta, Chema-kapkwai, and Chema-Ngangata. Many of the bridges on the roads have also been damaged by the floods.
Mr Fundi Chemwok, an opinion leader and resident of Kujongi Village, Chema Sub-county, blames the state of affairs on poor leadership.
“There is political negligence. There is no proper follow-up on government projects such as roads, health and education,” he says.
Mr Chemwok, a retired journalist, says the money that comes from the central government to maintain roads is misappropriated.
“There is a gap between MPs and district council leaders. Let MPs come on ground and assess the damages caused by floods on roads and other projects,” he says.
Mr Aggrey Chepkwurui, popularly known as DK, a local musician, says they are using music to campaign against bad leadership.
“When it rains, most roads in rural areas are cut off in Sebei. Our music concerts are just held in a few towns,” Ms Chepkwurui says.
He warns that “there is a need to intensify the monitoring and supervision of the government projects, otherwise, there is no value for money”.
When the former State minister for Economic Monitoring, Mr Peter Ogwang (now State minister for Sports), visited Sebei early this year, he discovered many ghost and abandoned projects.
Several civil servants were arrested and charged with misuse of funds, embezzlement, corruption and negligence of duty. Others were interdicted.
Ms Irene Chebet, a teacher and a farmer, says traders spend nights in their cars because of the poor roads.
“Few traders who make it to the villages to buy the produce get stuck on the way. This is why they offer very low prices,” she says.
Ms Chebet says there is a need for routine maintenance of community access roads.
Mr John Sokuton, a businessman in Kapchorwa Municipality, says the poor road network has chased away potential investors. “The investors who would help Sebei develop leave the area once they realise that most roads are in bad shape,” Mr Sokuton says. Ms Peruth Chemutai, an Olympic gold medallist, says they face many challenges while jogging and training in rural areas.
She says they are mobilising resources to repair the Barawa-Kapchol Bridge in Kapchorwa Municipality that was washed away after waiting for several years with no action from the government.
“My husband and my father-in-law have mobilised money to repair the bridge. Some days back, I survived falling in the stream with my vehicle,” she says.
Mr Twalla Fadil, the MP for Tingey County in Kapchorwa District, says the district lacks adequate road funds.
“To make the matter worse, the money does not come in time. We have a larger road network, but the money given to the district is little,” Mr Fadil says.
He says the government should increase the fundings in the road sector.
“The current allocation for road maintenance is very low with some districts receiving as little as Shs25m a quarter from Uganda Road Fund, which is inadequate for maintenance of roads,” he says.
The Bubulo East MP, Mr John Musila, says districts, sub-counties and the town councils are grappling with collapsed road infrastructure.
“I wish the Finance minister constituted a committee to visit the rural areas and he is able to witness the damage floods have caused,”Mr Musila says.
Kapchorwa engineer Joseph Musobo Bukose acknowledges that his administration has done little to repair the dilapidated roads, but was quick to blame it on inadequate funding.
“There are frequent budget cuts which have affected the road sector. Maintaining a 1km of the road in Kapchorwa is equivalent to maintaining the 5kms in the lower belt,” Mr Musobo says.
“Several bridges in the district have broken down and the district does not have the capacity to work on them because of financial constraints,” Mr Musobo said.
He says although the district was supposed to get Shs242 million from the road funds last financial year, they only received Shs135 Million.
“We need a special fund for mountainous districts due to their terrain. At the moment, it is difficult to attend to emergencies because of the bad roads,’’ he adds.
Kapchorwa Municipal Council Town Clerk Samuel Robert Okwir blames the poor roads on the terrain.
“The terrain of this area is bad and most of the areas have rocks,” he says.
Motorists are forced to spend hours maneuvering through potholes and slippery roads to transport agricultural produce to Mbale and other neighbouring towns.
Mania Media learnt that most of the affected roads in the heart of Kapchorwa Municipality connect to hotels, schools, health centres and places of worship.
Kapchorwa Municipal engineer Bob Cherop says the entire Sebei Sub-region has unique terrains, which calls for a unique approach and funding.
“This place is hilly and sloppy. To put murram on the road…. you need Shs56 million per Kms and getting the same murram is a challenge,” Mr Cherop says.
According to him, Kapchorwa Municipality has 431kms. He also acknowledges that the quality of work is usually compromised because of limited funding from the central government.
The MP for Kween County, Mr William Chemonges, blames some dishonest local government administrators for aiding graft.
“Whereas the citizens complain that the government is not doing enough to work on the roads, the problem is also with some local government officials who misuse the money,” he says.
Mr Cornelias Kemboi, a councillor in Kween, says more than 500 people were left homeless and property worth millions destroyed after River Atari in Kween District burst its banks after a downpour last week.
Several roads were damaged, leaving several sub-counties such as Ngenge, Sundet, and Kiriki impassable.
Locals revealed that some pregnant mothers deliver on their way to health centre while others deliver at home. Mr Simon Peter Chesang, an elder, says pregnant mothers walk a distance of about 20-kilometres to attend to antenatal care at the nearest health centre.
“The are no public vehicles in rural areas because of the deplorable state of the roads,” he says.