Kasese — Police in Kasese District have finalised investigations into Mubuku Irrigation Scheme officials who allegedly abandoned an excavator worth Shs500 million in River Mubuku.
The police spokesperson for Rwenzori East, Mr Vincent Twesige, yesterday said investigations are complete to have the suspects prosecuted.
"We are done with the investigations and their file is ready. Soon, we shall take them to courts of law for prosecution. They have been on police bond," Mr Twesige said.
When the government rehabilitated Mubuku Irrigation Scheme in 2014 that was non-functional for several years, hopes were high that residents would utilise the excavator as a life-changer for the people of Kasese and neighbouring districts.
Government through the Water and Environment ministry handed over the excavator to help in desilting River Sebwe that supplies water for irrigation to the scheme after injecting more than Shs19 billion.
The excavator was handed over to the district and it was to be supervised by the district leadership.
Later, the district authorities allegedly handed over the scheme to Abashaija Kweyamba Group.
The contention came when the Abashaija Kweyamba Group allegedly started hiring the excavator to out-growers outside the scheme and that the money generated was not accounted for.
Mr Robert Bagonza, the chairperson of Abashaija Kweyamba Group, said they hired the excavator last year to Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation operating in Kasese District, to desilt River Mubuku in Karusandara at a fee of Shs1.5 million per day for a period of three months.
"We [Abashaija Kweyamba Group] hired the excavator at a standard rate set by the district and the leadership is aware of its whereabouts," Mr Bagonza explained.
He, however, could not explain why the excavator has been abandoned in the river since last year.
The district environmental officer, Mr Augustine Kooli, said he is not aware of the desilting exercise by Save the Children on River Mubuku.
"Anything done in the water bodies has environmental impact and there was no assessment done to that effect," Mr Kooli said.
Ms Meresi Nyirabakunzi, a resident of Mubuku II Parish in Karusandara where the excavator was abandoned, said the abandoned machine has led to the flooding of the river affecting their homes and gardens since water was channelled from the main river.
"We are suffering a lot because of this water, we want help from our leaders otherwise we have suffered enough due to this machine. We used not to get floods in our area here but since July, we have been experiencing huge volumes of water because of river diversion where water is not controlled," Ms Nyirabankunzi said.
What others say
The project manager of Save the Children, Mr Viane Musika, said whatever they do in the district is done with the district authorities and to compliment government work.
"Save the children does not have the capacity to desilt the river. I refer you to the district authorities," he said on Thursday.
However, the chief administrative officer, Mr Turyatunga Harry Kafureka, said he is not aware of the excavator work since he was still new in office. He said he learnt of the matter after the politicians complained about it.