ARUA. A section of locals in River Oli Division, Arua Municipality on Wednesday blocked Mr Nahori Oya, the Arua resident district commissioner (RDC) from commissioning two school projects for allegedly being incomplete.
The projects are; the fencing of Arua Islamic primary school project worth UGX35m and the construction of a five stance pour-flush toilet at Oli Parents primary school which was done at a tune of UGX25m.
The projects were part of the four ventures funded by the discretional development equalization grant (DDEG) in the 2018/19 financial year.
Others are; the construction of Doctor’s house at River Oli Health centre IV at a tune of UGX120m and the fencing of Salihin primary school which was worth UGX35m.
Mr Oya who was invited by the Division officials to commission the projects faced hard times at Arua Islamic and Oli parents’ primary schools when some of the locals protested the move, saying the works were shoddily done thus they were not worth the value of the money allocated.
At Arua Islamic primary school, Mr Amin Akid, the school’s management committee (SMC) chairman said: “Actually, we are disowning the project because you can just see this fence from outside and judge for yourself. This is one of the substandard projects given to us.”
“You can see how the gate looks like and if you are to move around, you will see how shoddy the work is. So being the central government representative, for me I would say, the value of this project is not worth the shs35m they are saying,” Akid told the RDC.
Mr Abdulmutwalib Kizza, the Arua Islamic primary school parents, and teachers’ association (PTA) chairman said the project was not worth commissioning because it still has a lot to be completed.
He noted that the watchman’s house near the gate is incomplete without doors, windows, and plastering, the fence wires were not properly pulled even the foundation of the fence is weak – meaning that the work was not properly done.
“The RDC should go back until the work is properly done to our satisfaction,” Kizza said.
However, Hajj Swale Isak, the school headteacher declined to talk to the media but Mr Geoffrey Candia, a teacher at the school concurred with the decision taken to stop the RDC from commissioning the project, saying it would not serve its purpose of protecting the children from the dangers posed by the nearby Arua – Rhino Camp highway.
“When you look at the work that has been done, there are some gaps left without being completed, and as such, children can maneuver ways of going through. To me the decision was right for the safety of our pupils,” Candia said.
Similarly, when the team reached Oli parents’ primary school, the RDC was equally asked by the area local council one (LCI) chairperson not to dare to commission the project, arguing that it was incomplete and in shoddy state.
Left with no option, Oya said the projects are meant for the community, adding that since the leaders were not satisfied with the workmanship, he can’t go ahead to commission them.
“It is now upon the Division and the constructors to see how best they can reinforce the works to satisfy the beneficiaries, so I’m not commissioning them until you are ready,” Oya said as he proceeded to commission the two other projects which were also under contention.
“The Engineering department has given me the biggest shame in my life. As the technical supervisors of these projects, it is as if the Engineer and his team didn’t have a good relationship with the people who are the owners of the project,” said Khemis Muzaid, the River Oli Division chairperson.
But Mr Herbert Olea, the River Oli Division Engineer clarified that ideally, the UGX35m allocated for fencing Arua Islamic primary school was not adequate enough for the project based on the size of the area to be fenced.
“In the design, we didn’t have the component of the watchman’s house at the gate, so the chairman had to lobby the contractor to put up the structure which he did at his will and what they are alleging to be shoddy work is not true. When you look at the quality of works and materials used, it is a standard structure,” Olea said.
For the case of Oli primary school toilet, he said right from the inception of the project, the LCI chairperson has not been supportive for reasons that he wanted the contract to be awarded to him.
Olea said since the commissioning has been blocked, they are going to have the rectification done because the projects have their retentions (5% of the total project cost) still running.
By the time of the RDC’s visit, the two contractors; True Stars Investment and Hope Engineering that undertook the works at Arua Islamic and Oli parents’ primary schools respectively were not at the site for questioning.