Following an outcry by MPs, the Committee on Physical Infrastructure will has been assigned to assess the state of regional mechanical workshops under various government entities.

The directive communicated by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa follows a statement by the Minister of State for Works and Transport (Transport), Hon. Fred Byamukama on the ill-equipped workshops during the plenary on Wednesday, 11 October 2023.

Byamukama told MPs that out of the four regional workshops charged with maintenance and repair of road equipment under his ministry, only one is fairly equipped and functional.   

“The problem is not only money, because there are other government entities with workshops such as the agriculture ministry,” said Tayebwa, adding that the committee report will be considered in making budgetary allocations.

“Apart from the Bugembe Regional Mechanical Workshop, the other three do not have appropriate infrastructure in place. Gulu and Mbarara workshops can best be described as parking yards while the Central Mechanical Workshop has dilapidated structures,” said Byamukama.

Byamukama explained that the current state of workshops was due to a decline in funding over time, resulting into the ministry’s inability to retool the workshops as well as repairing the existing equipment.

“In 2017 when the road equipment was procured, annual routine maintenance was estimated to cost Shs22 billion. Consequently, budget allocation was reduced to Shs12 billion resulting into the ministry’s inability to provide even tires and batteries, let alone settling accumulated debts with service providers. The resultant availability of the equipment reduced to about 30 percent,” said Byamukama.

A section of legislators did not buy into the minister’s claim saying even when local governments have funds for repair, the workshops have consistently failed on their mandate for reasons including lack of the requisite expertise.

“Even when we have money the workshop in Bugembe, Jinja District has failed to provide the service. The workshop has declined our requests for repairs to the extent that we wrote to the Chief Administrative Officer to allow us hire private service providers,” said Hon. Denis Nyangweso (Indp., Samia Bugwe Central County).

Bunyole East County MP, Hon. Yusuf Mutembuli, said Butaleja District’s tipper truck taken to the Jinja workshop in 2019, has not been repaired and efforts to retrieve the same have met with opposition.

“The district engineer wrote to the workshop management to release the tipper on failure to repair it, but the workshop has refused to release it on grounds that they only act upon instruction from the Works ministry,” Mutembuli said.

Legislators observed that the status of workshops is likely to affect the implementation of Shs1 billion, given to each district for road maintenance in the 2023/2024 budget under the Road Fund.

Government was urged to consider accrediting maintenance plants at district level cognisant that the four workshop cannot sufficiently serve the entire country.

“The coverage of these workshops is so wide and the scope is so big, imagine the Gulu workshop services Acholi, West Nile, Karamoja and Lango. I request that the works ministry accredits some other maintenance plants to assist these workshops,” said Hon. Nelson Okello (UPC, Maruzi North County).

Rwampara County MP, Hon. Amos Kankunda, observed that there was need to assess the value of the funds allocated to the running of the workshops over the years, saying there is seemingly no progress.

“You [Ministry of Works and Transport] have been getting money over the years but we do not see progress. I suggest the responsible committee investigates to uncover what beyond the budgetary limitations is behind the failure of the workshops,” Kankunda prayed.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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