Despite government providing bicycles to village and parish chairpersons in Hoima District to ease movement in their areas of jurisdiction, one of the beneficiaries pokes holes in the initiative saying it does not fully facilitate them to duly perform their duties.
Speaking at the handover of the bicycles at the district headquarters today (Wednesday), the Nyakabiingo village chairman in Buseruka sub-county, Mr Swaleh Kiiza, complained that though government has provided the chairpersons with the bicycles, the cost of maintaining them hangs in the balance.
He said with the current economic situation in Uganda, it might be hard for some of them to maintain the bicycles since the government gives them a paltry approximately Shs330 ex-gratia every day that when summed up for a month, the money cannot be used to buy even a bicycle tyre.
The chairman accused the higher authorities of being financially inconsiderate to village chairpersons, yet the government relies on them for mobilising communities to engage in certain programmes and projects and solving disputes at the lowest units of administrative governance.
“The Shs10,000 government gives us every month is so little an amount to help us maintain these bicycles. This amount cannot even be enough to buy a bicycle tyre. So, giving us bicycles without increasing our monthly ex-gratia may not solve our problems. When those bicycles break down, it might be hard for some of us to get money for repairing them. Government doesn’t mind about us yet saying we are its foundation,” Mr Kiiza said.
However, Ms Harriet Asiimwe, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, cautioned the beneficiaries against mishandling the bicycles saying they are a government property that call for proper management legally.
She reminded the Chief Administrative Officers, Sub-county and Parish Chiefs of being duty bound to protect the bicycles given to the chairpersons in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, Mr Emmy Kateera Turyabagyenyi, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC), tasked the chairpersons to traverse their areas mobilising communities to participate in government programmes and handling and solving problems within their areas before they escalate into aggravated security threats.
He told the chairpersons to always envisage any would be threat at household, village and parish levels by using the bicycles to reach out to all their constituents so they can avert any form of insecurity for peaceful co-existence.
A total of 303 bicycles were given to the chairpersons each costing Shs350,000.
Upon receiving the bicycle, Ms Angelica Asiimwe, the Kyeramya Village Chairperson in Kiganja sub-county, said she had been finding it difficult traversing the village on foot given its geographical vastness solving land disputes and varied family wrangles among the residents.
She said coupled with the long distance and walking on foot, Ms Asiimwe had sometimes been missing meetings; thanks to the initiative that she will now overcome the challenge.
“I have been walking for two kilometres almost every day to solve land and family related cases in my village costing me a lot of time. Sometimes I spend the whole day hungry walking to distant places to solve disputes; sometimes failing to attend meetings due to lack of transport. In the event of walking, I could sometimes feel bodily weakness due to the long distance I had been walking. However, now that I have received this bicycle, it move faster and it will be easier for me to perform my duties better,” Ms Asiimwe said.
Hoima city also received the bicycles at a function officiated by Public Service State Minister, Ms Grace Mary Mugasa while Kikuube district also got theirs today.