MP Asiimwe intervenes as Councilors, Speaker clash over Umbrella of Water and Sanitation

MP Asiimwe intervenes as Councilors, Speaker clash over Umbrella of Water and Sanitation

Amos Tayebwa

Mbarara

On Wednesday, there was a mixture of reactions in Rwampara District Council meeting between the District Speaker, Jotham Taremwa and a section of Councilors on a contentious matter of the Umbrella of Water and Sanitation which was recently introduced in Rwampara to manage all the water Schemes and water sources.

It has been established that a number of Locals and some Local Leaders intend to resist and reject the Umbrella of water and Sanitation project  from some areas of Rwampara to control their water schemes/ sources.

Last year in December, a team from Umbrella of Water and Sanitation presented themselves in the District Council meeting and asked the councilors for a collaboration and be allowed to take care of the community Water sources and Schemes as they are mandated by the Ministry of Water and Environment.

MP Molly Asiimwe and Councilors during a council meeting in Rwampara
MP Molly Asiimwe and Councilors during a council meeting in Rwampara

It is further noted that, in 2018 the Government through the Ministry of Water appointed Umbrella of Water and Sanitation to take care of some of the water projects in the South-Western region in which Nyabikungu Scheme is inclusive and more other 11 water schemes &  gave the  Umbrella a direct mandate to take care of the system and gazette water supplies with a goal of having sustainable use of clean & safe water in Uganda.

However, in the recent Council meeting, Councilors were seen pronouncing themselves that all water schemes and sources be de-gazetted from Umbrella and let the communities manage their own water.

Chrispus Musinguzi, a male Councilor representing Workers revealed that a number of water schemes and sources were constructed by the Non-government Organizations and that the communities have been taking care and managing the water  by themselves.

It is said that ACT as a Non-government organization did a great job by identifying water sources and building the water schemes there and introducing them to the communities. He says that Umbrella has not done anything in terms of rehabilitating on any water sources or water schemes in Rwampara District but they only want to come in place and start putting tariffs to collect money from the communities on the water.

“We are saying if you want to collect money from these water sources, please increase their capacity, extend them to communities where there are no water services and you start collecting money from them. We pronounce ourselves that these schemes are being managed by communities, as leaders we had wanted Umbrella to go and sensitize the communities about what they wanted to do for them. We realized that their objectives were not very clear. Now we want all the schemes from rwampara be de-gazetted from Umbrella unless they make some rehabilitation and new construction to manage those water projects or sources” said Musinguzi.

Coucilors during the discussion

“I will stand on my position that most of these water sources were started by the communities and to me am not interested that these water sources be gazette by Umbrella of Water and Sanitation. Let the communities manage their water” said Benjamin Amanya, Finance Secretary Rwampara District.

This was an issue that caused vapor in the house as councilors were insisting that council should resolve to dismiss Umbrella of Water and Sanitation in Rwampara District from managing communities’ water sources and projects. The motion therefore was blocked by the Speaker Mwesigwa who consulted the law and made a decision using the power entrusted to him and directed the CAO to write to the relevant authorities seeking for the guidance into the matter regarding if such an organization (Umbrella) that was appointed by ministry can easily be dismissed from operating its activities as mandated for in a District.

In the same Council meeting, an estimated budget of Shs 25b was laid before Councilors for review.

After the bitter discussions in the Council, The Rwampara District Woman Member of Parliament, Molly Asiimwe who had attended the same council as an EX-Official asked fellow Leaders especially the district Councilors to always be mindful of the decisions that are made in their council. She said that  as Council should desist from politicizing most of the decisions that are made in this same council, that when such decisions are politicized they will indirectly affect service delivery in the areas these councilors represent.

“I would like to say and ask our local leaders and our communities that even if you don’t afford that water, do not resist that project, let the project come so that those who can afford it use it. Let’s allow the Umbrella Project to install the water meters and bring the water that whenever you can afford it you can buy as many jerrycans as you can afford. Don’t be so negative about this kind of project because Umbrella is one of the service providers that will bring services to the people” said Molly Asiimwe, Woman MP Rwampara District.

“And also I agree with the District Speaker that he was right not to make a decision against Umbrella in the council when he hadn’t done enough consultation. I also thought it was important for the CAO to first consult with the ministry of water to learn about ACT’s contract before reaching the decision of chasing away Umbrella which may affect us. There is more information that is needed for us to reach a conclusion and the masses also need  to be sensitized not to react against any of these water projects, what we need is water. I also want to urge that lets not politicize services done by some of us as leaders. Now we are going to get into a very politically heated season so we don’t need to mingle our political differences in the field with service delivery because it confuses people”

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