COMMENT | Samson Tinka | In early August, Minister of State, Office of the President for Economic Monitoring Peter Ogwang started touring districts to check on government projects. What he came across was shocking, and was characterized by gross misuse of government funds, signs and symptoms of fraud, corruption and shoddy work.
These are the same Local Governments have been pleading with central government to increase funding up to 35% of governmental budget.
From Bunyoro to Bududa, Kamuli, Mbale, Kakumiro to Kiryandogo, no major district project was found fit for purpose despite billions of Uganda shillings committed to uplift the standards of living of local people.
Schools that were built are defective. There are non-existent boreholes, bridges in Bududa collapsed before commissioning, roads in Kakumiro were poorly done, health centers in Kamuli had collapsed before use.
Money budgeted and dispensed for new district headquarters have generally been miss used and instead, in many cases, officials simply painted the existing very old building.
Ogwang is not quality surveyor neither a civil engineer but he was able to see and confirm shoddy, substandard works exhibited in these projects. Do the CAOs, Internal Auditors, CFOs and even local councilors still work for the districts or they relocated to Kampala and other cities?
Where are the District Security teams ?
In all these shoddy, appalling and bad workmanship, security is nowhere to be seen. Each district in Uganda has the following security officers
- DPC-District Police Commander
- RDC-Resident District Commissioner with Deputies
- CID-Criminal Investigation Officers
- CIO-Crime Intelligence Officer
- DISO-District Internal Security Officer
- GISO-Gomborora Internal Security Officer
These officers should interest themselves on the project cycle of these very important and life changing government projects and not leave it to the Police alone..
Fraud is a new crime which is syndicated and well collaborated. Contractors connive with district technical officers and politicians to steal from government. The stop gap would have been the security team.
One would expect DPC, RDC, DISO and CID to monitor big government projects covertly and raise an alarm immediately when things are going bad.
Each village or Gombolola has a police post, others have stations that should be able to be notified when shoddy government projects are at an early stage?
The Uganda we are in now requires security officers who will fight white collar fraud. Collusion of government officers and contractors is the biggest problem facing Uganda in this century.
This government has a lot of money, funds dispensed but mismanaged in front of security officers. The commanders of our gallant security teams must now include monitoring of government projects on these officers KPIs and deliverables.
Any government project mismanaged when they have not intervened, they should be held accountable. You can’t have DISO or OC CIID who is inactive.
From Ogwang’s initial findings, it appears now that the biggest corruption is domiciled at Local Government level.
Hence these security officers should drop the gun and carry the eyes, pens and ears. Fraud is big and huge. It needs flexibility and dynamism to attack it. Days are gone of a police officer in uniform moving just like that. Use a pen and paper to deliver tangible results.
CAOs & Internal Auditors
The Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) and Internal Auditor are supposed to be watch dogs on behalf of government.
How can an accounting officer at the level of CAO fully pay for Bududa bridge or non-existing borehole in Kiryandogo. Do they just receive papers and sign without looking at the details?
There should be a project report with both videos and still photos. Secondly there should be physical visits to such sites to confirm actual presence of the project both in shape and quality.
As long as the public don’t see value for money projects your relevance and your offices are null and void. It’s troubling how a CAO can pay money for a school structure that is either incomplete or badly built. Benchmark from private schools, less money paid but value realized.
Local & Church leaders
It’s a shame that local leaders keep watching as projects in their communities are mishandled.
These schools and hospitals are for you the locals not the contractors. It’s important that you open your eyes and seek accountability from the kind of the project being implemented in your areas. Church leaders should raise their voices.
I would call for Local government budgets to be cut. They have demonstrated inability to use the little given so far.
Ministers hit the road.
Ogwang’s tour has shown that ministers should spend more time in the field than the boardroom.
Leave ACs, put on gumboots and move around. Ensure that security arrests contractors and CAOs on spot. Let them feel the cold in police and government prisons.
The public need to see pro-activeness from Security officers. Leave chicken and goat thieves alone and instead help central government and ministry of finance in effective monitoring of these social service projects. If Local government projects were fairly implemented, the middle class economy would have been attained 10 years ago.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo