Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) wants government to procure operational vehicles for district leaders if the alleged misuse of vehicles for the COVID-19 surveillance is to stop.
In a letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, ULGA president who is also the Kabarole LC-V chairman, Richard Rwabuhinga, said that had the government provided local government leaders with vehicles as promised earlier, the misuse would have been probably minimized.
“It is also true that had the government paid due attention and acted on the overdue request, the current experiences and for which there are scattered incidences of abuse would be avoided,” Rwabuhinga wrote in a December 23 letter.
Rwabuhinga’s letter was in response to Aceng’s criticism of local government leaders for “misusing vehicles meant to facilitate surveillance and COVID-19 vaccination activities in the country.”
About 282 double cabin trucks were in October distributed to municipalities, cities and districts across the country to support the COVID-19 responses.
As the country recorded a spike in COVID-19 infections last week, Aceng issued a statement accusing politicians and technical staff in the districts of misusing the vehicles.
“… it has come to our attention that the vehicles are being used by the political and technical leaders rather than the health workers for the intended purpose. Some of you have even gone ahead to rub off the writings on these vehicles. This is malpractice and misconduct of the highest order, and it is unacceptable,” Aceng stated.
She gave the district leaders up to December 27 to have the vehicles returned to serve the intended purpose, and warned of dire consequences, in case the leaders fail to adhere to her call.
Rwabuhinga hit back, faulting the minister for making sweeping statements to discredit local government leaders.
“As Local Governments, we are committed to the efficient utilization of resources available to us and request therefore that an incident or two should not be used to derogate the entire Local Government leadership as seems to be the trend lately! We note an increase in this attitude from ministries, departments, and agencies and condemn this approach in equal measure,” Rwabuhinga wrote.
The development came after Kumi district councilors gave their LC-V chairperson, Nelson Elungat, a five-day ultimatum to return the COVID-19 vehicle registration number, UG 7011M that he took from Atutur General Hospital.
Elungat returned the vehicle within a day, and is back to the old vehicle used by his predecessor, Christine Apolot.