Saturday, May 4, 2024

A visit to a multi-billion Odukul community valley tank in Kapelebyong Town council, Kapelebyong district demonstrates one gross lack of responsibility by government agencies especially the ministry of water and environment which purported to have constructed a reliable source of water for this stressed community emerging from armed rebellion and Karamojong cattle rustling.

Even without an expert eye, Odukul valley tank supposedly to provide 30 million cubic meters of water daily, is a project now rendered almost useless as the overhead storage tanks and concrete drinking troughs were not built. Instead, the ministry of water and environment or whoever it contracted to build the dam, short-changed government. The contractor simply brought in five (5) shallow metallic water troughs that resemble residential bathrooms tabs for an estimated over ten thousand herds of cattle, sheep and goats to drink from.

To bring water from the dam, there are only two loosely connected plastic pipes that dangle freely looped into the shallow metallic tabs. At this point it's left to the herdsmen to manually fill the tab as their cattle drink. What was supposed to be a concrete slab to avoid a muddy floor and also help make cleaning the drinking area easy to clean has been left in its natural state not different from those village water holes that spread diseases like foot and mouth as well as tick-borne.

Three years down the road this valley tank has neither been completed nor commissioned, and handed over to the community for use by the responsible, or rather irresponsible ministry to water and environment. This particular shambolic valley tank also demonstrates the cross-purposes that still reigns in government as the ministries of water and environment on one hand, and that of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on the other either due to silo mentality or lack of strategic policy depth cannot syncretize the formulation and successful implementation an otherwise useless project to benefit the same communities both of them are supposed to serve.

This gross negligence is pattern in a number of government projects across the country meant to facilitate poorly served communities especially those in the agriculture sub-sector transit from peasantry into the commercial money economy, better and higher production and productivity through sustained socio-economic transformation.

Only two weeks ago the office of the president stumbled onto two similar projects, a pineapple juice extraction which was a presidential initiative for youth employment, and soap and cooking oil factories under NAADS in Kayunga district completed four years have been left to rot away with no one actually responsible for their safety let alone ownership and operations. On inspection it emerged that the machinery for the soap and cooking oil factory had were vandalized ages ago and the truck meant to facilitate its operations was hijacked by a local politician and yet no one including the many tiers of local district government leadership can account for them. In Awindiri ward, Arua city, and Dokolo town similar projects for grain and cassava milling lie idle abandoned in the bush. Indeed there are many similar white elephant government funded projects where money has been sunk littering the country and line ministries and thousands of supposedly on the ground leaders simply close the chapters.

As the twin cases in Kayunga and Kapelebyong districts show, the multiple layers of elected and appointed leaders have been rendered unable to serve the people they are supposed to speak out for and hence coming off either as poorly tailored, unfit or probably unuseful for the purpose.