Mukono Officials Panic Over OPM Iron Sheets, Cement

In what turned out to be a purely precautionary measure, 520 bags of cement and 402 iron sheets disbursed by the Office of the Prime Minister, were yesterday ‘confiscated’ by authorities in Mukono district.

But speaking by telephone late last evening, an OPM official said the matter had been sorted out. For the authorities in Mukono, however, it had been an eventful day.

According to a December 1 letter from the OPM permanent secretary to the Mukono chief administrative officer, signed by Ms Ketty Lamaro and copied to the minister of State for Luweero Triangle, Mukono RDC and Mukono LC-V chairman, the items were disbursed under the Luweero-Rwenzori Triangle Poverty Reduction Project.

They were meant to help the beneficiaries in their construction activities.

The letter, which was delivered alongside the items and with the copies to the district officials, partly read: “The OPM will work with you to distribute the items to beneficiaries from the district headquarters. We will inform you and the beneficiaries of the day for distribution”.

However, some of the beneficiaries travelled with the items to the district headquarters on Tuesday, driving in their own vehicles meant to ferry the items after distribution, something that made officials suspicious.

The beneficiaries for Mukono were stated as Frederick Mugwanya (60 iron sheets), Dennis Lubega (50 bags of cement and 80 iron sheets), Kasifa Namboze (200 bags of cement and 50 iron sheets), James Magombe (100 bags and 67 iron sheets), and John Onito (120 bags and 50 iron sheets). Some 50 bags and 100 iron sheets had been allocated to Master Mulingire primary school in Mayuge district.

Among other things, the letter requested the CAO to allow that the district headquarters be used as the distribution point, and nominate a technical officer to participate in the distribution. However, the district officials noted anomalies, including the fact that the beneficiaries did not seem to be residents in the district as they claimed.

They failed to name their local leaders, including LC-V, LC-III and LC-II chairmen, and could not name any of the district leaders before them. The LC-V vice-chairman, Musa Kiggundu demanded to know how they were identified for the assistance without passing through the known LC leadership.

They replied that they applied long ago directly to the OPM, to which Kiggundu said: “We know best who should be the right consignees for these items, and since you claim you applied for them directly, there should have been no reason for the OPM to involve us.”

On realizing that there were pressmen in the board room, three of the beneficiaries drove away. Police was alerted and in the company of the sector intelligence officer for Mukono, Kayunga, Buikwe and Buvuma districts Maj Moses Segujja, and the overseer for the Operation Wealth Creation in the area Lt Col David Lukanga, the vehicle carrying the items, registration number UG 0344Z and its trailer number UG 0345Z, were driven to the police parking yard.

Deputy RDC Yunus Mugabe told journalists that he ordered confiscation of the items, pending clarification on who is the right beneficiary. He said he had communicated to the Mayuge RDC to investigate Master Mulingire primary school, the purported consignee in Mayuge.

“We have decided to off load the items for Mukono beneficiaries, and we are going to release the Mayuge items for handling by the Mayuge RDC,” Mugabe said.

However, Under Secretary Ketty Lamaro told The Observer last evening that the items had been duly disbursed by her office.

“We have sent our officials and they discussed the matter with the district leaders and agreed a way forward,” she said.

Source : The Observer

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