31 January 2018

Uganda: Leaders Split Over Hospital Project

The construction of a modern hospital in Oyam District hangs in balance, following a row among the local leaders over, where the facility should be located.

The proposed hospital facility, to be undertaken by Sinohydro Company Limited, the Chinese firm building the Karuma Hydropower plant in Kiryandongo District, is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to give back to the community.

Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) says the Chinese firm is stuck with Shs5.4 billion following the disagreement, two years after the money was earmarked.

Although Karuma Dam is within Oyam, Nwoya and Kiryandongo districts, the hospital is set to be built in Oyam District within a 10km radius from the site.

However, due to political clashes, the leaders have failed to agree on the exact location where the hospital should be built. Because of such disagreements, the Lands minister, Ms Betty Amongi, has been named in the saga.

Mr Simon Peter Kasyate, UEGCL corporate affairs manager, says the money is readily available and everything has already been set in place to build the facility.

"The money is just idle, the architectural designs were made and the contractor can easily be mobilised but the local community is still bickering on where exactly the hospital should be," Mr Kasyate says.

The disagreement

The disagreement is over whether the hospital should be constructed in Iceme Sub-county or in Kamdini Sub-county.

It is reported that in September 2016, a joint inspection of proposed land for the site by teams from the ministries of Health and Energy agreed that it should be constructed in Iceme Sub-county but that the district leadership under the influence of Ms Amongi have chosen Dicwinyi Village in Kamdini Sub-county.

The community in Iceme Sub-county claims it had out of generosity donated 100 acres of land required for the construction of the health facility.

However, then chief administrative officer for Oyam, Mr Steven Ouma, on January 19, 2017 wrote to UEGCL saying another land had been secured at Dicwinyi Village in Kamdini Sub-county.

"I am happy to inform you that land is available at Dicwinyi Village, Juma Parish in Kamdini Sub-county. The distance is approximately 1.5km to the project site and 0.7km to the national grid line. The purpose of this communication is to ask you to visit the site and start the project implementation," the letter reads in part.

Minister Among accused

Now that Sinohydro Co. Ltd is stuck with the next cause of action, the leaders of Iceme Sub-county have turned their anger on Minister Amongi, who is also the Oyam South Member of Parliament, whom they accuse of influencing the district leadership to shift the development from their area to another sub-county.

Mr Nicholas Opio Awelo, the Iceme Sub-county LC3 chairman, is one of the leaders opposed to the proposed location of the facility at Dicwinyi in Kamdini Sub-county. He accuses Ms Amongi of self-seeking, alleging that she wants to reap from compensations since the land at Dicwinyi is hers.

"The CAO does not write a letter on his own. It was a district executive agreement under Ms Amongi's influence. The land she insists that the hospital be built on is her personal land and it is different from the one, which Health and Energy ministries earlier on inspected. That land belongs to Ms Amongi who intends to reap big in compensations," Mr Opio claims.

Prime Minister involved

According to Mr Nelson Adea, the Oyam District chairman, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng bitterly disagreed with her counterpart Ms Amongi over putting the facility at Dicwinyi.

"While other ministers including Ms Amongi, who attended the meeting maintained that the hospital be put at Dicwinyi, Dr Aceng said it was meaningless to put the facility there, a few kilometers from Aber hospital," Mr Adea says.

He says the meeting failed to agree and the matter was reported to the Office of the Prime Minister, which up to now, is yet to guide on the matter.

Amongi denies wrongdoing

Ms Amongi denies having any influence on the project.

Shs says she had already donated her own land at the second site in Myeme Sub-county, which like Iceme Sub-county was rejected for lying about 50kms away from the project site.

She asks the leaders, who are complaining about the proposed site at Dicwinyi to consult with the ministries of Health and Energy, and also UEGCL, which are concerned with the construction of the facility.


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