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Ministry of Works and Mbarara City in a Fight over 7Billion for Emergency Katete Bridge.

Joshua Nahamya

Mbarara city leaders headed by the mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi have condemned the Ministry of Works for failing to allocate UGX 7 bln to work on the dilapidated Katete Bridge connecting locals to and from Mbarara city centre.

Kakyebezi said that generally, the bridge connections in the city are all in a sorry state, calling upon UNRA and the Ministry of Works to start with the Katete bridge that also connects Mbarara city to Isingiro district.

These include; the Katete bridge connecting Katete-Nyamityobora, Rwentondo-Rubiri Bridge, Taso-Nyamitanga Bridge, and Kanyeyite Bridge that connects Nyakaizi cell and Karugangama cell.

He said the situation usually worsens during the heavy rains that wash away the temporarily constructed bridges blocking pedestrians, school-going children, and motorists from crossing River Rwizi to access services and attend to their businesses in town.

During an extraordinary council, mayor Kakyebezi said he is tired of repairs on Katete Bridge that cause traffic and put people’s lives at risk in the city.

“We are tied with repairs that pale off every day. We have written several letters I have also been to the ministry of works and transport but the answer is that they lack finances” Kakyebezi said

Recently council used over 6 mln to repair the same bridge but after a week the bridge is now in a sorry state and locals are condemning the city council for wasting the taxpayers’ money.

“Last time we heard that they spent about 16 mln to put timber and metal plates, this time around they used 6 mln to put only patches of metal plates and in a week the bridge is now impassable. Is there value for money? Can they account for the expenditure of 6 mln on the bridge renovation? Mwanje Ronald asked

However, Kakyebezi said they spent 5.1 mln but he is also tired of regular renovations of the bridge that have consumed the city council’s budget.

“Let the town clerk explain the variance of the figures about how much was spent on the bridge repair but what I know is the money which we budgeted was 5.1 mln shillings,” He said

Kakyebezi threatened to close Katete Bridge to disrupt traffic so that the ministry could pay attention to Katete Bridge.

“I am faded up with Katete bridge and as you talk now there is another document which was brought by the IGG over the same bridge. I am fade up with these emergencies which are not even lasting for long and I am handing it over to the ministry of works and members of parliament” he said

Councilor Byansi Muhammad said since August, the city has so far lost about 10 people drowning in River Rwizi as they cross the dilapidated bridges.

“It is unfortunate that we are losing our people over these bridges in a sorry state when the ministry of works is looking on. Last time it was three school going children that were going back home that slipped into the river” Muhammad said

Hon. Mwine Mpaka, MP of Mbarara City South said the Ministry of Works has Katete Bridge in plans asking the city leadership to remain patient for the funds.

“I want to give you good news that the ministry of works released BOQs for that bridge. It requires 6.9 bln right now we are in the process to see how we can put it in the budget of the next financial year as a priority” he said

Hon Mpaka said “the bridges that were washed by the heavy rains in the city were also put in the budget but the ministry of works had not got the money”.

“We expect that in this coming quarter they are going to release some money but might not be enough because there was about 9 bln that cannot work on all the damaged bridges,” Mpaka said

RDC Lt. Col. James Mwesigye, Mbarara City Mayor Kakyebezi and other officials at the said bridge

Councilors anonymously recommended the bridge construction but challenged the city engineer to make the bridge designs and bills of quantities before approving the budget.

“Our recommendation is that we can work on that bridge as a council but let it come with good designs which are modest. So executive go and package it clearly because we cannot approve the monies before we look at the BOQs and the designs on the issue of Katete Bridge” Tashobya said

Town clerk Assy Abirebe Tumwesigire advised the council that the construction of bridges is the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and Transport, not local governments.

“Much as they don’t have the money I don’t think the ministry is going to give us that bridge. They have only allowed us to put a concrete deck that can even move us for 10 years at a cost of about 1.2 bln.” Tumwesigire said

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