UGANDA: $18 MILLION JAPANESE ROAD REHABILITATION GRANT BREWS ANIMOSITY IN GULU MUNICIPALITY

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Gulu Street being rehabilitated by JICA funds

“I wish to apologize to the people of Gulu Municipality over the animosity now brewing over the design of the roads being rehabilitated with funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This is because we did not bring you (stakeholders) on board. This consultation meeting should have taken place a long time ago before the actual work began”-Engineer Magala.

“We wrote to our elected leaders in July 2018 expressing our concern but they chose to keep quiet. Nature hates a vacuum. You can’t blame a person if you are responsible. You don’t have to accept anything even if it is a grant that is not beneficial to the community. We had to go to court”-Mr. Ocaya

“It is still too early to fight for political office. There are some DP councilors who are mixing politics for the 2021 election cycle and development. If we stop this grant then our children will accuse us. I was surprised that property owners didn’t contact me instead I was surprised with the court case”-Mayor Labeja

GULU-UGANDA: A senior Engineer with the Ministry of Works has apologized to the people of Gulu Municipality over the animosity which is brewing over the widths of the roads being rehabilitated by the $18 million dollar grant by the Japanese government.

Engineer Magala Godfrey said the stakeholders meeting taking place on Monday, September 10, 2018 at Gulu district council hall ‘should have taken place a long time ago’ before the actual work of roads rehabilitation began.

“I wish to apologize to the people of Gulu Municipality over the animosity now brewing over the design of the roads being rehabilitated with funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This is because we did not bring you (stakeholders) on board. This consultation meeting should have taken place a long time ago before the actual work began”, says Engineer Magala.

JICA is currently rehabilitating a total of 6.04 kilometers of roads in Gulu Municipal Council central business district.

The Monday stakeholders meeting was prompted by actions of Gulu Property Owners Association who went to court and placed an injunction accusing Municipal authorities and JICA for narrowing the widths of the roads.

According to the chairman of Property owners, Mr. Ocaya George Onen, they raised their concern to the Mayor, Mr. George Labeja, in writing that the roads under construction are being narrowed, but the Mayor chose to ignore their letter.

“We wrote to our elected leaders in July 2018 expressing our concern but they chose to keep quiet. Nature hates a vacuum. You can’t blame a person if you are responsible. You don’t have to accept anything even if it is a grant that is not beneficial to the community. We had to go to court”, says Mr. Ocaya.

The Mayor blamed some councilors who belong to the Opposition Democratic Party (DP) for causing the animosity because they are mixing politics with development simply because they are vying his office in 2021.

“It is still too early to fight for political office. There are some DP councilors who are mixing politics for the 2021 election cycle and development. If we stop this grant then our children will accuse us. I was surprised that property owners didn’t contact me instead I was surprised with the court case”, says Mayor Labeja.

He appealed to the people in the Municipality to desist from always taking the council to court because at the end of the day, it is money for service delivery that will be affected thereby denying people service.

He cited the example of the former Town Clerk, Mr. Opolot, who had to be paid shs.1.3 billion Uganda shillings ($361000 US dollars) because his services was wrongly terminated by the regime of former Mayor, Paklaki.

The Gulu district council chairman, Mr. Mapenduzi Ojara Martin, appealed to the Municipal authority to always have open dialogue with citizens on any development initiative taking place to avoid such unhealthy developments.

The Resident District Commissioner, Major Santos Okot-Lapolo, warned the politicians in Gulu to always settle their differences amicably rather than mixing such differences with governmental development programs.

“Sharing information demystifies everything. Unless we bring our differences, then Gulu will never become a city”, says Major Lapolo.

 

 

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