Concern As Thousands of Karamoja Iron Sheets Goes Missing Again

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Concern As Thousands of Karamoja Iron Sheets Goes Missing Again
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MOROTIO - The long-awaited distribution of iron sheets in Karamoja has been met with frustration and disappointment as thousands of the building materials are reported missing, again.

The initiative, spearheaded by the Office of the Prime Minister, was intended to provide much-needed support to vulnerable communities and reformed cattle raiders in the region.

Despite initial excitement surrounding the distribution, joy quickly turned to dismay as reports emerged of significant discrepancies and missing beneficiaries from the distribution lists.

In Moroto alone, over 1,600 iron sheets are unaccounted for, while in Abim, the figure exceeds 2,000, leaving many without the promised assistance.

“Forty-one beneficiaries are missing from the distribution lists and are now on waiting lists,” George William Wopua, the Moroto Resident District Commissioner (RDC), revealed.

In Abim, over 2,000 intended beneficiaries are scratching their palm and feeling the emptiness in it.

Yuventine Omara, chairman of Abim, expressed concern that frustration was boiling among the beneficiaries.

“My people have been waiting for this support for over two years, and again they have been excluded, what will I tell them?” Omara said.

In Lotisan Subcounty, concerns have been raised about the exclusion of reformed warriors who voluntarily surrendered their guns in favour of business opportunities

“I have only seen five reformed warriors on the list, the rest are business people,” Robert Akiiki Adupa, chairman of Lotisan Subcounty, said.

he threatened to return the iron sheets if the issue is not rectified promptly.

In response to the mounting grievances, Peter Lokeris, the minister of State for mineral development and Karamoja area leader tasked with monitoring the distribution, has promised to investigate the matter.

Lokeris reassured residents that efforts would be made to ensure that all deserving beneficiaries receive their allocated iron sheets.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Don Nabasa, the commander of the UPDF Third Division, has appealed for patience from the youth who returned their guns, assuring them that they will receive their allocated iron sheets in subsequent phases of the distribution.

The distribution of iron sheets, which was launched in Abim last week, was intended to address the needs of vulnerable communities and reformed cattle raiders.

However, the ongoing controversy and discrepancies in distribution highlight the challenges facing efforts to support and uplift marginalized communities in Karamoja.

Analysis: Not again!

In December 2021, Parliament passed a supplementary budget worth Shs39 billion to support various programmes in Karamoja, including the purchase of 100,000 iron sheet pieces, and other relief items like food and goats.

The iron sheet pieces were purchased in 2022 but investigators later found that ministers and other officials had shared 14,200 of the building materials among themselves.

Junior finance minister Amos Lugoloobi had already roofed a goat shed with the items. He was arrested alongside Karamoja Affairs minister Mary Goretti Kitutu and her junior Agnes Nandutu as President Museveni wowed political action against the "mabaati thieves and saboteurs of economic progress".

With the charges and the pregnant clouds of doom hanging loosely over the matter, it is unlikely that more pieces of iron sheets have been diverted again. It would appear more like the process is just suffering from irregularities related to the lists of the intended beneficiaries.

But lightning sometimes strikes the same place twice. In a country where corruption walks in broad daylights, waves and smiles at its victims, you cannot completely rule out another heist.

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