Katumba and Omara

What Minister Gen. Katumba, MP Omara said during the launch of 31km road upgrade in Otuke County

(Last Updated On: 23 November 2023)

Otuke I Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Katumba Wamala on Wednesday launched about 31km road upgrade from Agweng Town Council to Okwang Town Council, Otuke County in Otuke district.

The Minister was hosted by the area MP, Paul Omara with whom they received a mammoth welcome from the constituents including former Otuke DW MP, Sylvia Akello.

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The road will be upgraded in two phases, with the first phase having 16km fully rehabilitated in the current financial year, according to Eng. Bosco Lipi, Regional Force Account Manager for Northern Uganda at the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Eng. Lipi says the road will be rehabilitated up to Baralegi State Lodge.

“Currently, this road (the 31km) is in a sorrow state, it has failed. So, we have come to rehabilitate it to bring it back to life. The scope of work, we are going to do the general clearance, heavy grading; we are going to handle the drainage facility along the road which  had completely failed and then we shall do full gravelling of the entire road section,” he explains.

Besides upgrading the road in two phases, Eng. Lipi further adds that they are going to ensure the entire road network is motorable. “We shall do some forward maintenance on the entire 31km. We have started now, this work is supposed to run up to around April. We should be done with this phase.

“The 16km will cost us about shs500m to do full rehabilitation, gravel work and drainage facilities. So, we are calling upon the community along the road because there is no compensation. This is a government of Uganda-funded project and the government doesn’t have the compensation element on this project. So, the community along the entire road network is requested to cooperate with the workers especially when we are tackling the issue of drainage, offshoot, catch water drainage facility and so on.

Eng. Lipi told Journalists that they expect the community to give them maximum cooperation during this period. “This project is also supposed to benefit the community in such a way that our workers will be accommodated here, they will get local food, suppliers within and also casual labourers that are supposed to support our team on the ground and are supposed to be recruited locally from here.

On possible resistance from the community, he replies, “We are just starting. Elsewhere we have been, there are pockets of people who don’t accept (especially the offshoots) to go into their gardens, that is why we are appealing to the leaders to engage them ahead of time such that we don’t get those inconveniences as we proceed.”

In the entire Otuke, the 31km road was picked based on a submission the district made to the Ministry about its importance to the district and the urgency for the intervention, Eng. Lipi reveals.

“…the road equipment which was given to the district, there is a maximum they can do. They cannot do rehabilitation so there is a special mobilization which has to be done which we have done now with some heavy equipment so that rehabilitation can be done. The uniqueness of the road, nothing so unique, it’s among the many requests which the ministry received and was approved by top management to have this intervention done,” Regional Force Account Manager, Eng Lipi responds to a question about the road’s uniqueness.

Dickens Okello Erick is the LC3 Chairperson (Mayor) of Okwang Town Council in Otuke County. “I’m happy to welcome Gen Katumba Wamala today through my Member of Parliament Paul Omara and I’m also happy that today this road that has been the worst – from Okwang Town Council to Agweng which had cut off business is being worked on. We could not access the road from Lira via Barjobi to Okwang, I’m happy today.

From Okwang to Kaguta Bridge, Erick says, “It is about 21km. That is my area,” he adds, “We, the communities of Okwang, have been suffering locally. One, there is our Okwang market here.

This market was almost collapsing because market vendors from Lira could not access to transport their goods from Lira to Okwang. Right now, I’m happy that when this road is worked on it is going to boost businesses, he tells tndNews

Also read: What to know as Minister Wamala addresses nation Tuesday on road crashes 

“Secondly, the youth here call themselves being ‘redundant’ because of those economic activities I’m talking about. These are youths who carry luggage, and goods in motorcycles so that they can move to other markets like from Okwang to Omoro and Patongo but they cannot access good roads. These are roads only used by pedestrians.”

After the launch, the Town Council leader believes they are going to have good business going forward.

The Secretary for Planning and Administration, Otuke district who also represents the people of Adwari sub—county in the council, Odongo Jimmy Odany represented the LC5, Francis Abola at the launch.

He applauds MP Omara for “all the endurance he has made since we elected him”. “Our Member of Parliament, I think he’s the first of its kind in Otuke as a whole that we have seen, he is quite different,” he adds, telling MP Omara “not to get worried amid all these challenges that you have been facing along your way”.

“I’m also urging our councillors who are locally based in this district that we must be realistic in whatsoever we are doing. Purposely, we were elected to bring development; we should not chase what is bringing in development in our area. For this purpose, therefore, I’m calling for the integration as the chairperson of Otuke District Local Government today that we must be together to achieve what we want in the remaining years… 

Odany applauds Minister Gen Katumba Wamala and the Ministry he heads for seeing Otuke as an existing district in Uganda. “We want to thank the entire government of Uganda under the NRM headship for considering this road, and therefore also appealing to you Hon. Minister, ‘this is not the only road which is bad’. In Otuke generally, he tells the Minister (not in particular Otuke Constituency), even in Otuke East, is the same.

Also read: Otuke: RDC Akullu tells Karamojong to vacate the district

“Hon. Minister, I’m begging you. If a similar opportunity happens, consider us. We are in a bad state, almost in the entire Uganda, I think Otuke is the most in a bad state,” he says to the excitement of the constituents.

RDC of Otuke, Robert Adyama asked communities to ensure engineers working on the road are secure, and thanked MP Omara for having what he describes as “a great social network”.

He tells the Minister that from Kapelebyong to Agago, there is a porous border where warriors keep coming through to destabilize the community.

“We may need to construct a security road, we have enough deployment of UPDF on the ground but the only challenge I have met is effective and fast mobility of the force. It takes an estimate of about 50km from Kapelebyong, bordering Abim to Agago.

If indeed the security road is put right, the RDC believes that those cattle rustlers going to Otuke will be handled.

Otuke County MP, Paul Omara asked the people of Otuke County and Otuke in general to castigate bad politics and embrace politics of development. “Why President Museveni has brought us PDM, Emyooga, he’s telling us to change our lives so that we can develop. That is a good plan. As leaders, we have to rise to support the President’s programs – good programs to develop the country.

“Do not see what Paul Omara is doing and start to clamp his legs, I disagree with it. I say this with a heavy emotion. I’m happy that my brother, the Mayor, has changed his opinion saying, ‘Hon. Paul, let’s work together to develop our people because it’s hard to bring development like this’.”

“My only appeal to you is that, let us avoid intrigue and when development comes we receive it, which is what is important. 

On Okwang people missing PDM, Omara says “political fights and intrigue affect development”, announcing that he has followed up with the Minister of Local Government on the issue of PDM of Okwang.

“I have followed it up with the Minister of Finance. That money is coming; I’m a champion. That is why a few weeks ago you saw me monitoring the registrations of beneficiaries in Adwari and Alao to ensure that PDM money comes to them and I’m sure some of them have received the money.”

MP Omara told his constituents that together with Minister Wamala, they sat done and did the mathematics to ensure there was money for the road under rehabilitation. “This road was put in Council in 2017, I was not there, I was doing other work. After eight years of my time in Parliament, it’s being worked on.”

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Minister Katumba and MP Omara had a spot check on part of the road to be rehabilitated.

Guest of Honour, Gen. Katumba Wamala said before officially launching the road rehabilitation that MP Omara Paul is “my good friend” – telling the constituents that he had also received a message from Otuke District Woman MP, Susan Abeja saying she was out of the country and unable to attend the launch.

“Don’t think that Hon. Omara didn’t invite her but she’s out of the country and she has sent her regards to you.

“I have heard and also listened to the issues between the two Members of Parliament. I will invite them and we will talk over a cup of tea. For the sake of Otuke, we can come to an understanding and develop together. It needs all of us together.

Also read: Businessman and politician Anthony Ojuka charged and remanded

“I want to thank you for supporting the government and UPDF, for helping us to end the war in this area. Thank you very much for creating peace because without peace we cannot develop. You remember there was no way we could even meet as a family like this without being disturbed but now there is peace that is behind us and we must move on towards development.

“Thank you for supporting President Yoweri Museveni who is our very, very strong leader not only in the country, not only in the region but in Africa continent and world over. I know he will be very happy to know that we have launched the road going to his State House because every time he was telling me ‘How can the road going to my State House be very bad? How can I be stuck when I am going to my State House?’ Now I think this issue will be solved. This time I will sleep.

“I want to thank the people of this constituency for sending useful people like Hon. Omara Paul to Parliament. You know, in Parliament up there, the government is like a cake or the share in government is like a cake. So, up there, the size of the cake is not very big and everybody wants a piece of that cake: Ankole wants a piece, Karamoja, Acholi, Buganda; Busoga, Bunyoro, Bukiga. Now, if you don’t have somebody up there that can help you to fight for this cake you may not even get a piece.

“I have so many roads, 230,000km of roads which I have to look after and every Member of Parliament wants to have a piece of that. For you to get 31km, you need to clap for Hon. Omara Paul…

“I also heard the Mayor, he says this is a Town Council without a tarmac…we shall talk with Omara, we may get a low-cost shield if you talk well. Now you need to talk well, if you talk well you may get 1km.

Minister Wamala jokes, and tells the Mayor, “If you don’t get 1km of low-cost shield, it means the Town Council is not talking well.

“So, today, we are here to launch a road from Barlegi-Okwang-Agweng road because, without a road, development is zero.

“For us to develop this area, to join the other parts of the country we must connect it and connect it well. Somebody said it should be tarmacked, it will be possible but first of all, you must show that there is a production which requires tarmac, goods which are produced here needs to be moved to the market.

Speaking to the press shortly after officially launching the road upgrade, Gen. Wamala believes the road will be able to help the farmers in the area to take their products to the markets.

“Because as you move around it is very evident that people here are very productive, when you look at the type of farms they have, in terms of maize, rice and also sorghum you see it is really a productive area.

“But if you don’t enable them to evacuate their products then their efforts will be lost, so that is why this road is very important. I was appealing to them that they should also use this road to develop personally. Most of the houses in the area are grass-thatched. So, when they sell products now, they should be able to turn their houses into Mabati (permanent) houses because the road will enable them not to be seated on their products.

“You know if you don’t have transport you will be cheated, some of your products will be bought cheaply. But when the road is good, they are able to take their products and manage the market very well. So as they sell their products, they should be able to change their lifestyles,” Minister Gen. Wamala preaches wealth and household change.

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