Funding constraints expose Hoima rivers to silting dangers

A woman washes clothes standing on the silt that amassed in River Rwenkondwa. The now dry ground was once a river before silt was deposited there.

Walking around Hoima city, one’s eye cannot fail to catch a small river with little serene water struggling to flow in a disrupted course.

It was once a wide watercourse thunderously flowing providing magnificent scenery to anybody especially environment lovers and also creating a sense of fear to people that once one stepped in it, it would wash them away given its potent tides.

But now, the force and width the rivulet naturally boasted of has been reduced to almost nothing with less than five metres breadth left, sending chills down a senior citizen’s spine, who once saw how it was.

For long, human activities have been blamed for the dying away of brooks in Hoima in general but now it has emerged that silting is another factor to the cause.

A source that asked not to be identified but resident of Kiryateete in Hoima city told Kazi-njema News that he has so far spent 23 years washing cars in Rwenkondwa River that separates Kiryateete and Kibati cells but he has noted that the shrinking stream is in addition a result of silting.

“This stream was once wide and deep. Nobody could dare step in it anyhow like it is now for fear that its gushing water could wash you away. It was risky stepping in it. You could not beat the rush of its water. But now, the river has been narrowed by silt. It is no longer as wide and as deep as it used to be since silt has filled it. People including young children wade through the little and extremely shallow water without any fear, contrary to the past,” he said.

The source warns of further disappearance of River Rwenkondwa since the “relevant authorities have taken long to de-silt it” wondering rivers are today not de-silted like it used to be in the past for the maintenance of the easy flow of their courses.

Mr Ismail Ssekyanzi, a councillor for Kihombooza Ward B in Hoima City West Division observes that the relevant authorities have shown little attention to de-silt the rivers that sometimes end up overflowing and submerging bridges.

He wonders why government is no longer de-silting the rivers like it used to do, thus, calling for the programme revival.

Audio: Ssekyanzi on silted rivers (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Mr Ismail Ssekyanzi, the Kihombooza Ward B councillor talking to Kazi-njema about the de-silted rivers in Hoima City.

Mr Samuel Kiribahikaho, a resident of Kiganda cell in Hoima city also attributes the disappearance of streams to lack of de-silting.

He cites River Bigajuka as ebbing due to the heavily amassed silt that has buried two Bigajuka and Kisiraamu spring wells.

He says even River Bigajuka struggles in its course that was deterred by silt resulting in the water forcing its way to the neighbouring buildings up.

“Bigajuka River is suffocating with silt. The river is currently struggling to find its way for the flow of its water. Due to the blockage, it is now forcing its way to the neighbouring buildings up. If the buildings were not farther away up from the river, it would have already flooded and washed them away,” Mr Kiribahikaho told this news website.

When contacted, the Hoima City Environment Officer, Mr Ronald Kyamanywa, admitted that there is a gap in de-silting the rivers warning that aquatic life will not survive if action is not taken.

He also warns that continued silting of rivers will one day result in floods that will ultimately affect people in the city, thus, advising that funds should be allocated to the docket.

“Indeed rivers are not being de-silted and this will at one time result in adverse effects to both human and aquatic life in the city. Water organisms will die due to the water blockage. People will at one time also suffer because the rivers will burst their banks, thus, flooding into buildings causing displacement.”

Mr Iddi Magezi, the Hoima City Council Secretary for Works, says currently, council does not have funds to de-silt the rivers given the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country and the world in general.

However, he says a comprehensive plan has been designed to embark upon the issue in the next financial year.

“Local revenues have been constrained by the outbreak of COVID-19 and this did not enable council to do all the work as was expected. Council also used to get financial resources from the Uganda Road Fund for de-silting drainage channels and rivers. But the resources remitted quarterly reduced from Shs250m to Shs150m yet there is a lot of work to be done on the cause,” he told our reporter.

Adding: “Plans were made to ensure that de-silting both drainage channels and rivers in the city be effected in the next financial year.”

This story was published with support from Global Greengrant Fund (GGF)

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