Authorities use high repair costs as a trick to sell government cars
Some districts across the country are ditching government vehicles at low cost under the pretext of being in poor mechanical condition, Daily Monitor reported.
An instant investigation revealed that suspected vandals were ripping off parts and accessories such as engines, seats, gauges, radios and speedometers from the vehicles in question.
In Lwengo district, where nearly 19 vehicles have stood for two years, an auction sanctioned by the authorities saw nine vehicles and five motorcycles go under the hammer.
Mr. Ibrahim Kitatta, president of Lwengo district, confirmed that the district now has only five immobilized vehicles, including one for the president, vice president, finance director and agriculture department.
“We are now planning to allocate more resources to the works department to repair the immobilized vehicles and also to lobby for new ones,” he said.
However, a district staff member who preferred anonymity revealed that many vehicles are usually deliberately immobilized even when in use.
“These vehicles are usually phased out by the time a new executive arrives,” the staff member said.
The staff member added: “Sometimes they do this when new vehicles have been purchased and even those in very good condition or those that have served a small period, are bought by the same officials or their relatives.”
It is no different in the Mubende district, as the councilors essentially auctioned off 23 immobilized vehicles for only Shs 30 million. These included tractors, double cab pickup trucks and motorcycles.
Surprisingly, even the vehicle (Nissan Patrol) that the former district president, General Kasirye Ggwanga, drove in the early 2000s, and which the district council decided to preserve for future generations, has also been released. scrap, “said Vincent Tumusiime, the district finance chairperson.
Mr Tusiime linked this rather curious sale of vehicles to the previous council headed by former district president Francis Kibuuka Amooti.
But Mr Amooti insists that when the office was handed over, the vehicles were still in the district park yard.
“These properties were sold in early July and not April as it is claimed. There have been attempts by advisers to sell these vehicles since 2016, but I blocked them. When they realized I had stepped down, they did what they always wanted. I am going to ask the inspector general of the government to intervene, ”he declared.
Mr. Robert Mbabazi Kakwerere, president of Rukiga district, said plans were underway to get rid of five immobilized vehicles. The vehicles would need repairs which cost a lot of money. “After disposing of these vehicles, the money collected will be allocated to the departments to carry out the government’s fieldwork. The money that should be received after they are sold can’t even buy a new one, ”Kakwerere said.
Same scenario, different cast
In many other districts, immobilized vehicles accumulate dust at the district headquarters. Some of the immobilized vehicles include ambulances, double cab pickup trucks and tractors. Most of the stranded fleet was a government donation to districts to strengthen their road units in 2012 and 2017.
Daily Monitor has learned that some workers in the district have had to resort to private or public means to perform official work. In the island district of Kalangala, for example, more than 20 vehicles are immobilized.
District chairman Mr. Rajab Ssemakula said only two of the 10 departments have functional vehicles.
“Only the education and health departments have vehicles and this has affected service delivery,” Ssemakula said, adding that he was also missing an official vehicle.
Mr. Ssemakula sometimes uses a district staff van or personal motorbike when performing official work.
“The conditional grants we receive from the central government have no budget to repair district vehicles and local revenues that have been partially used to meet the needs. [for] such repairs, is currently wired to the center which determines what to return.
Mr. Sulaiman Ssemwanga, a senior auto mechanic in Nyendo, a suburb of Masaka town, said immobilized vehicles unsurprisingly deteriorated in their economic value due to depreciation.
“Unless districts change the way they manage their fleets, they will continue to lose their vehicles due to poor maintenance,” Ssemwanga said.
Mr. Raphael Magyezi, Minister of Local Government, said the government was investigating possible collusion and corruption in the sale of district vehicles.
“We are investigating those who claim to auction government vehicles and sell themselves and their circles,” he said.
Mr Magyezi said local governments should do the heavy lifting in the upkeep and maintenance of their fleets.
He believes that the centre’s money earmarked for vehicle maintenance and another part of the Covid-19 relief fund should be of great use to the districts.
Recently, each district and town received 150 million shillings and municipalities were awarded 100 million shillings to facilitate community-level responses from local and regional Covid-19 task forces.
While Mr. Magyezi advised districts to develop their own vehicle maintenance plans, Sembabule District President Mr. Patrick Nakalubo said a disconnection didn’t help matters. “This is why we have decentralization, general managers and city clerks should always offer advice on this,” said Nakalubo, whose district now has only three working cars, against a fleet of 12.
Mr Nakalubo said Sembabule has faced challenges during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic where they need emergency vehicles to transport patients to health centers and referral hospitals.
In the few months he has been in office, Mr. Nakalubo said he noticed that some officials were using government vehicles for their personal errands.
In the Lyantonde district, there are only two vehicles in good mechanical condition.
Mr. Paul Male, Deputy Managing Director of Lyantonde, said: “The mechanical advance we receive does not allow even two vehicles to be repaired. So we end up painfully abandoning the vehicles because we run out of funds. “
In Bukomansimbi – where 10 vehicles are immobilized – an auction is at an advanced stage.
District President Mr. Fred Nyenje Kayiira said they will establish a clear plan for routine maintenance and servicing of all vehicles.
Yumbe is also in the final stages of eliminating part of his ground fleet.
Mr. Brian Ojock, Deputy Administrative Director of Yumbe District in charge of administration. They said they were awaiting an investigation report conducted into the assets indicating which [are] to be eliminated or repaired.
Similarly, in March, the Kabarole district council passed a resolution approving the sale of some of the immobilized vehicles.
Paperwork turns ugly heads up
The elimination process is not quite moving forward in Arua, where the stranded fleet includes ambulances that Arua City MP Mourine Osoru donated last March.
In Bushenyi, only the education, health and labor departments have vehicles at their disposal, much to the frustration of the head of administration, Mr. Willy Bataringaya, who said he needed at least 11 vehicles.
“The district has no money and above all you may find that the cost of maintaining these vehicles is high,” said Mr. Bataringaya.
Apac District Acting Engineer Gaston Olal said only one of the nine vehicles was immobilized.
In Kabale, the head of the district administration, Mr. Edmund Ntimba, revealed that six vehicles are shared in 13 departments.
He said they were considering fixing a double cab pickup truck that has been standing still for almost four years.
The entire Serere District fleet is grounded, leaving the new president, Mr. Stephen Ochola, speechless.
A three-hour drive to Tororo, nearly 51 vehicles were immobilized. Administrative formalities prevented their elimination. Acting District Information Officer Jackson Osudo revealed that “most vehicles do not need major repairs, but the district does not have enough resources.”
The cry in the nearby town of Mbale is similar with nearly Shs 400 million needed to repair five immobilized vehicles.
The report in northern Uganda is also grim, with Amuru (10 of 28) and Gulu (24) having most of their fleets stranded.
In the Busia district, only about ten vehicles are in good condition.
Mr Stephen Bwire, a resident of Busia town, said in the past vehicles have been sold at low prices after the district failed to fund minor repairs such as wheel alignment.
Bureaucracy complicates all efforts to repair vehicles, as Kamuli District Works Manager, Mr. Fred Nabala revealed.
He said: “You find that we have a road works dumpster that needs to be repaired, but we are told to go through the regional machine shop, ask for a transporter in Kampala and bring it to Spear Motors. for repairs, this process may expire in November Delay of work and we are accused of incompetence.
At independence in 1962, Uganda had only 18 districts. When the ruling National Resistance Movement came to power in 1986, that number had only increased slightly to 33.
Today, the number has grown exponentially to 135 districts and more than 10 cities.
In 2019, President Museveni warned then Minister of Local Government Tom Butime against creating too many municipalities and city councils.
Mr Museveni feared that a huge public spending bill would strain state coffers.
At the start of decentralization in 1993, the government – provided for in the law on local administration – this power was to be devolved to local authorities. This was to promote political and administrative participation among ordinary citizens, the whole being improved service delivery and sensitivity to the needs of the community.
Critics, however, say the increase in the number of districts over the years is nothing more than gerrymandering. Decentralization has neither improved service delivery nor made decentralized units responsive to community needs. Road networks remain largely poor and challenges such as access to clean water and health services abound.
Compiled by A. Ssenkabirwa, W. Kutamba, R.Muhereza, P. Ssekandi, F. Warom, S. Semugenyi, A. Ashaba, P. Wafula, F.Ssewajje, R. Elema M.Bandiho, S. Ojok, G Muron, J. Omollo, P. Masongole, G. Okot, Tobbisa J Owiny, Sam Opio Caleb, D. Awori & A. Kirunda.