Uganda: Omoro Leaders Clash Over Location of Cancer Centre

12 September 2019

Omoro — Bickering among Omoro District leaders is delaying the establishment of a new regional cancer institute in the area, Daily Monitor has learnt.

Once built, the cancer centre would serve Acholi, Lango and Karamoja sub-regions, including South Sudan, whose residents always incur heavy costs to access services in Kampala.

Omoro District Council in 2017 offered a four-acre piece of land adjacent to Koro Sub-county headquarters on Gulu-Kampala highway for the new cancer facility.

However, during the boundary extension of Gulu Municipality in preparation for city status, part of Kal Village on which the cancer project land sits, was annexed to Gulu District.

Omoro District councillors now argue that the cancer centre will be constructed on a territory belonging to Gulu, leaving them disadvantaged. Mr Isaac Newton Odongo, the Omoro District councillor, said the district council last year resolved to relocate the project to Bobi Sub-county.

"The district was only against having the facility built on that land since next year, it will be belonging to Gulu District once it becomes a city," Mr Odongo said in an interview on Tuesday.

However, the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has warned that the region could lose the project if Omoro does not reverse the decision to relocate the proposed facility from Koro to Bobi. According to UCI, feasibility studies conducted on the land and the architectural designs have already been submitted to the donor, the Austrian government.

Dr Jackson Orem, the UCI executive director, said the standoff over the location of the centre has delayed construction works.

"We are still negotiating with the district leadership of Omoro to convince them to accept the facility to sit on the same land in Koro since it will not make sense to transfer it to another location," Dr Orem said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Whether it is in Gulu or Omoro, it still serves the same purpose because it is still within the same area neighbouring Omoro, as initially planned, and we have already identified funding for it," he added.

Reports, which Dr Orem declined to comment on, indicate that the cancer institute project could be shifted to Mbarara District in western Uganda, who have ready land, if Omoro and Gulu district leaders do not resolve the conflict.

However, Mr Douglas Peter Okello, the Omoro District chairperson, said the district recently reversed the earlier proposal to transfer the project to Bobi Sub-county.

"We have decided that it stays in Koro as earlier planned," Mr Okello said.

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