March 28, 2013

OPM Blocks Use of PRDP Funds to Construct District Headquarters

The Office of the Prime Minister-OPM has blocked plans by Arua Local government to use funds meant for Peace Recovery and Development Plan-PRDP activities to construct a district complex. In October last year, Arua district council passed a resolution to use 6.5 billion shillings from the PRDP funds to construct a complex that will host the district headquarters. The complex is estimated to cost 9.5 billion shillings. The foundation stone for the complex was laid by President Yoweri Museveni six years ago but construction failed to take off because of lack of funds.

Part of the money that was collected locally for the construction work was used to pay litigation costs. Now, the plans by the council to use the PRDP funds to construct the complex have hit a snag. Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in OPM has written to Sam Ogenrwoth, the Arua chief administrative officer strongly warning the council to desist from the plan. Bigirimana says PRDP funds are not meant for building district offices but should be used to construct schools, roads, health centers and provision of water among others. The warning from Bigirimana has thrown the district council into confusion.

Genesis Acema, the speaker Arua district council says they are aware of the letter from the ministry, adding that they are yet to decide their next course of action. He says that they have identified some sources of funding such as the sell of some land belonging to the district, contributions from councilors and donors such as British American Tobacco but the money will not be enough. Emmanuel Munduni, the councilor representing Katrini sub county who was behind the proposal to use PRDP funds says the letter from the ministry will not stop them from starting work. Munduni who is also the district finance committee chairperson wonders why Arua is being treated differently, when other district were allowed to use PRDP funds to construct their offices.

Sabo Kamilo, the district finance secretary says they would have already started the construction work using their locally generated funds but they have failed to secure a competent contractor.

Some residents have welcomed the decision by the OPM, and instead accused their councilors of thinking about petty things. Peter Ojoatre, a resident of River Oli division says the construction of an office block is not a priority, when health center have no drugs. He appealed to the district to look for alternative funds for the complex. He was supported by Simon Bunia who said the money budgeted for the complex should instead be spent on putting up staff quarters for teachers because they are struggling to find accomodation.

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