Locals cry for help as unfinished roads plague Mbirizi town

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Locals cry for help as unfinished roads plague Mbirizi town
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Residents of Mbirizi town council in Lwengo district find themselves in a precarious situation as unfinished roads and unclosed drainages pose a threat to their . safety.

The construction of Mbirizi access roads which started in March 2023 in a bid to  upgrade of the town's infrastructure has  now resulted into numerous challenges for the community.

Locals say the  roads intended to uplift the town's infrastructure have instead become a source of distress for the community.

The drainages dug during roads constructions and are  designed to manage water flow in the wetland area have been left open, endangering homes and residents alike.

Additionally, the roads, which were meant to be a symbol of development, now stand incomplete, leaving the town in a state of disarray.

“They wanted to bring beauty but they were destroying because our houses have started collapsing due to the ditches that were dug and left uncovered," Abdul Nsereko, a resident of Mbirizi said.

The residents' plight is exacerbated by the lack of compensation for affected individuals and the apparent disregard for proper procedures during the construction process.

Despite efforts to voice their concerns to local leaders, residents feel neglected and unheard, as the responsibility for the roads remains unclear.

“We woke up when men had started the construction work of these access roads and dug the ditches straight in our houses’ verandahs without telling us anything about compensation but we were kind because we  need development in our area. However, the work was left unfinished and it is now coming to a full year. We tried to cry to our local leaders but everyone we approach says they are not the concerned person and we are now confused .Our houses have started to fall down due to the ditches they dug ,” Bruce Nzabanitah another resident of Mbirizi town council said.

When contacted to explain the situation,  Mbirizi town council engineer Alex Ssali  denied any wrongdoing

"I approached the men constructing these roads to tell me something about what they were doing in my area because they came without my knowledge but they replied that the person who sent them stopped them from talking to any one," Eng. Ssali said.

An investigation into the matter reveals discrepancies in the allocation of funds and execution of the project.

According to minutes from a meeting held on October, 18, 2023, chaired by the IGG's Office in Masaka, a substantial sum of shs11 billion was allocated for the construction of the roads that covers approximately five kilometers.

The same minutes shows the construction work was entrusted to Mt Elgon-Labour based Training Center MELTEC construction company based in Jinja.

These were led by Eng.Kenneth Sunday Kasenene from Ministry of Works and Transport.

In these minutes, Kasenene addressed the meeting that they have so far used shs3billion  out of the shs11 billion in these maintenance works.

However, residents report that only a fraction of this amount was effectively utilized, with significant portions of the road remaining incomplete.

“According to the design, the road had to be tarmacked  but the ditches had to be long enough and built at the standard but this is not the case," Bruce Nzabanita said.

"They had to branch from the Masaka-Mbarara highway on a bodaboda stage to Mbirizi high schools then  to Lwengo district Headquarters and it also had to go up to the graves of the fallen soldiers."

Contacted for a comment, Samuel Agaba from the office of the IGG in Masaka said,  “The matter is still under investigation and very soon as early as May we will be releasing the report.We decided to hold this meeting after receiving a complaint from residents who were led by Brunce Nzabanita."

Lwengo district chairman, Ibrahim Kitatta expressed dismay at the situation, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in all development projects.

He also called upon relevant authorities, including the Attorney General’s Office and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to intervene and address the shortcomings in the road construction process.

Eng. Kenneth Sunday Kasenene who oversaw the project said he  acknowledges the incomplete nature of the work but cited a lack of funds as the primary obstacle .

“The construction work is not yet completed but we do not have funds to proceed with the work. Residents should be patient. We will finish after getting the money," Eng.Kasenene assured residents.

Despite this assurance, residents maintain their hope is in UNRA's intervention, despite the agency no longer being responsible for the roads.

As the community grapples with the repercussions of unfinished infrastructure, their plea for assistance resonates with a broader need for effective governance and responsible development practices.

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