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Six held over missing accountability of municipal infrastructure development money in Fort Portal

Six officials of Fort Portal Municipal Council have recorded statements at the central police station after failing to answer queries raised in the 2013/2014 Auditor General’s report.

The officials were held this morning on the orders of the Local Government Accounts Committee of Parliament.

Members of the Committee, who are currently in Kabarole district, summoned the six municipal council officials to provide accountability for more than one billion Shillings meant for the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development -USMID project.

The officials are the Town Clerk Paul Omoko, Acting Principal Treasurer Diana Kamwenge, Municipal Engineer Herbert Kayihura, the focal person USMID project, Alice Komuntaro, Municipal Law Enforcement officer Roger Mulindwa and Procurement Officer Mwajuma Kobusinge.

USMID is a World Bank initiative designed to improve performance of selected Local Governments (LGs) to improve urban service delivery.

The legislators led by their chairperson, Aswa County MP Regan Okumu, put to task the officials to explain how the funds were used. Quoting the 2013/2014 Auditor General’s report, Okumu told the officials the funds were not put to proper use. He noted that some of the roads in the municipality that were supposed to be worked on under the project remain in a bad state.

Okumu also questioned the appointment of Komuntaro as the project’s focal person and yet she lacked the qualifications.

The officials failed to answer any of the questions put to them by the legislators.

Okumu warned them that he will hand them over to the police if they remain quiet.

They however kept their silence forcing Okumu to ask police officers to take them to Fort Portal Police Station and record statements.

By the time of filing the story, the officials were still at the police station.

In 2012, Fort Portal Municipality failed to utilise 3.2 billion Shillings meant for the USMID project.

The first phase of the project was supposed to start in 2012, but no works had started, despite the availability of the funds. Some of the key projects that were meant to be worked on include the expansion and tarmacking of roads, renovation of the Bus Park, improving the drainage system and construction of more markets in the three municipal divisions, among other things.

Municipal officials argued then that the funds could not be utilised because the two contractors who had been selected to do construction works refused to start work under unclear circumstances.