Lyantonde. Some Lyantonde District leaders are in the spotlight for allegedly diverting government projects that were designed to benefit the communities for personal gains.
The ministry of Water and Environment in 2013 embarked on a Shs250 million project to construct five valley dams in the four water stressed sub-counties of Kinuka, Kasagama, Lyantonde Rural, Mpumudde and Lyakajula.
The project’s main objective was to ensure availability of water for domestic use and livestock, especially during dry spells in the cattle corridor district.
Each of the five valley dam was expected to cost Shs50 million.
The district officials instead constructed four valley dams on their private farms and one on public land, making it hard for the communities to access them.
According to the Ministry of Water and Environment policy, a government valley dam is constructed following consensus from the residents on where such a project is to be located.
After identifying land where residents can easily access the project, the owners of that land signs a memorandum of understanding with the government indicating that they have donated it to the community.
However, this procedure was not followed and residents are calling for investigations into the matter.
The officials cited in the diversion of the project are, Mr Fred Muhangi, the Lyantonde District chairperson, who reportedly accepted the construction of Mpumudde Sub-county valley dam on his private farm, Mr Abert Rwesheshe, the former district vice chairperson, now chairperson of the district service commission whose land houses the dam for Lyantonde Rural Sub-county. The other two dams for Kinuuka and Kasagama sub-counties were allegedly constructed on land belonging to Ms Flavia Kabagye, district deputy speaker and Ms Violet Namara, the woman councillor for Kasagama Sub-county respectively .
It is only the valley dam in Lyakajula Sub-county that is being constructed on communal land.
According to residents, some district officials conspired with the district engineer to dig valley dams on private land instead of getting community land.
Mr Leonard Kyope, a resident of Nsheshe Village in Lyantonde Rural Sub-county, told Daily Monitor in an interview last week that land which had been selected by residents to construct a valley dam was rejected by district officials.
“During one of our village meetings, we chose a certain place where the dam should be constructed, but to our surprise, the project was constructed on another piece of land belonging to the former district vice chairperson, ” Mr Kyope said.
He added: “We want the central government to investigate this matter and look at all the processes through which they ended up constructing dams on farms belonging to politicians.”
Mr Moses Ssegirinya, the secretary for defence in Kawule Village, Lyantonde Rural Sub-county, claimed that the place where the dam was constructed is far away from people’s homesteads and only benefits the owner of the land and few neighboring families .
Lyantonde District engineer Francis Kiwanuka declined to comment on the matter, referring this reporter to Mr Muhangi.
When contacted, Mr Muhangi said the valley dams were dug following a resolution by council and all the processes were properly followed. “All documents were submitted to the office of the district engineer and the dams belong to the communities, not individuals as claimed. We could not allocate the project to someone who has no land, ” Mr Muhangi said.
He said the valley dam constructed in Lyantonde Rural Sub-county is not on his land but on a farm belonging to his father.
“I don’t own that land, it belongs to my father and the documents are available to prove that. What I know, the MoU was signed between my father and the district to have the community valley dam on his private land,” he said.
The Resident District commissioner, Mr Sulaiman Tugulagala Matojo, said he does not see any problem with politicians having the dams on their private farms as longer as they are accessible by the community. “They are also Ugandans who must benefit from government programmes. It would only be bad if they block residents from accessing the dams because they were constructed using tax payers’ money,” he said
Lyantonde District usually suffers water shortage during dry spells which depletes water sources and pastures.