RUKIGA– A row has erupted between Rukiga District Authorities and the South Western Umbrella of Water and Sanitation (SWUWS) authorities following protests by local residents against payment of the water user fees that was imposed on the Nyangorogoro gravity water scheme.
Nyangorogoro water scheme was constructed about 17 years ago by the communities in Rwamucucu Subcounty with help from the Diocese of Kigezi and access to water by the local community was free until 2017 when the South Western Umbrella of water took over and introduced UGX 100 a jerrycan of water as maintenance fees for the scheme.
According to the Rwamucucu Sub county District Councilor Eddie Mugisha , the water scheme was constructed in 2004 and the construction took 150 days covering 10 Km with 23 tap stands , three collection tanks and two water-breaking tanks.
Mugisha revealed that residents from villages of Rweza, Kitwe, Nyabikono, Nyangorogoro, Bugarama, Bwongola surrendered their land for the construction of the water scheme when the Kigezi Diocese offered to help them get access to clean water in 2004 in addition to physically contributing money to buy sand and cement among other construction materials.
However, Mugisha now says that the residents of the villages in Rwamucucu who have been using the water have completely failed to raise the money being charged by the authorities and as a result the locals have now resorted back to using water from the swamps for domestic use, which put them at a risk of infections from water borne diseases.
Cue in………Mugisha on water….
The Rukiga District Vice Chairperson Micheal Kwarikunda Mbareeba who doubles as the Male District Youth Councilor says that he doesn’t understand how South Western water Umbrella took over the water scheme and urged the residents in Rukiga District to continue refusing any tax levied on community water schemes without their consent.
Cue in……….Mbareeba on Water…
Kamwezi Subcounty outgoing District Councilor Jackson Muganizi argues that the South Western Umbrella should have constructed its own water scheme for management instead of imposing taxes on the already existing schemes.
Cue in……………Muganizi in Water…
In an interview with our reporter, the Manager of South Western Umbrella Water project Moses Bajure said they took over the scheme after Water supply systems in Rukiga District were gazetted by the Ministry of Water and Environment in 2017 and it’s from that background that they put a surcharge for water user fee purposely for maintaining the scheme.
Cue in…………Bajure on Water…..
Mr. Bujure however, denied accusations that authorities were not consulted adding that the scheme held several meetings with locals, Sub-county authorities, representatives from the Diocese of Kigezi, Rukiga Resident District Commissioner Prekeria Muhindo and the District Woman Mp Caroline Kamusiime Muhwezi pirior to the takeover in 2017.
He notes that the authorities in the District should understand that whatever they did was within the law and the interests of the government and since they are also part of the Government, they should shoulder the responsibility to comply with requirements of the law.
Meanwhile, the Rukiga District Chief Administrative Officer Eliab Ntarwete Begumya says it was true that take over of some water schemes in the District by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation was legal but blamed the Southwestern Umbrella of water and Sanitation for not holding enough consultative meetings with stakeholders to sensitize them on their mandate.