todayMay 17, 2024

By Godwin Abedican


The community of Pajulu and Awindiri I Arua city are calling upon the inspector General of Government (IGG) to investigate circumstances under which two bridge projects on river Enyau in Arua district and Arua city have failed to be completed.

On Monday 13th may 2024, the residents and road users took to the streets to demonstrate in anger against the stalled works at Enyau 2 bridge construction project that links Awindiri-Pajulu to Driwala and beyond.

The site for the bridges were handed over jointly to Niem Establishments Limited after funds were received by Arua district from the government of the republic of Uganda with support from the world bank under USMID-AF in the financial year 2022/2023.

The initial project period for the two bridges that were set to cost a combined figure of over 5 billion Ugandan shillings was 8 months.  Before the end of last year an extension was made from August until December 31st 2023 before USMID extended the all their projects by 6 months in to this year.
With all the extensions made, the works have stalled, worrying the community about the whereabouts of the project money.

According to Alex Oyer, the LC 1 chairperson of Awindiri cell in Onzivu Ward who was part of the demonstration if IGG does not intervene it is likely the project money will be embezzled “The project is stuck and when we tried to ask they gave us excuses. The district engineer promised us that by end of April the works would have gotten done but 5 months in to the 6 months final extension before the end of the financial year, no works have been done. The site is abandoned, even the security personnel have been complaining of their money around 10 million shillings not paid. If in 5 months they failed to work, what miracles they can perform in 1 month to finfish the project. Our demand is accountability and if the leaders cannot follow this, then the IGG needs to come in,” Oyer complained.

During the demonstration, Babikri Mubarak a resident of Pajulu remarks that the leadership needs to take responsibility for the failed bridge project “A few days ago, we almost lost the life of a driver here, because there are no road signs indicating that works are ongoing. We are therefore pleading to the concerned persons monitoring government projects to come on ground and see what the government moneys for the projects are doing,” he said.
Katerena Yisi, an elderly business woman and single mother comments that as the rains are coming their fate lies in the hands of floods since by then the bridge and roads would not have been worked on. We have suffered here for years. When it rains we cannot access the bridge neither can we cross many times we are left to sleep hungry because we cannot do business and yet we are taking care of orphans. We are poor but the rich should not be taking advantage of us,” she complained bitterly.

According to Openjtho Micheal, a driver who resides in Ezova cell, this kind of project failure is a shame to the government and paints a picture of incompetence of contractors who are given such projects raising the questions of how they get to be selected as the best bidders during the bidding process.

According to Alfred Okuonzi, the district chairperson Arua, they are following up on the matter given the delays. “The community is right to rise up but we need to know why the delay. This has been occasioned by under quoting by the contractor and therefore, as a district, we are waiting for the permission to process payments of additional funds for the completion of the project. We all want the bridge to be completed for people to use, Okuonzi responded.

A letter dated 25th April 2004 seen by Radio Pacis addressed to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development indicates a request for permission to execute variations or extra works and the provision of additional funds for the construction of Enyau 2 Bridge on Awindiri-BAT-Ajono road and Enyau 1 Bridge on Odianyadri-Congo road amounting to one Billion four hundred forty six million seven hundred ninety-four thousand three hundred eighty two (1,446,794,382) shillings.

COVER PHOTO: Protesters block Pajulu road next to the  project site as they demonstarate By Godwin Abedican

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