Uganda lags behind in implementation of USMID projects

Members of Parliament sitting on Parliament’s Local Governments Public Accounts Committee were left dumbfounded by the rapid development of Tanzanian local government authorities using funds provided by World Bank for urban infrastructural development.

Like their Ugandan counterparts, Urban authorities received funding from the World Bank under a program equivalent to the Uganda Support for Municipal Infrastructural Development (USMID).

What shocked the MPs who are currently on a benchmarking visit of Tanzanian urban authorities was that in comparison, Tanzania had moved far ahead of Uganda in the implementation of the program.

The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development acquired a $150m (Shs 540b) loan from the World Bank to support infrastructural development and capacity building in the 14 old municipal councils.

The implementation of the projects which commenced on March 28, 2013 is expected to close on December 31, 2018.

What is worrying is most Municipal Councils are moving at a slow pace of implementing the projects.

Committee Chairman, Reagan Okumu who led the committee to Tanzania thus had no kind words for Ugandan Officials whom he accused of not being nationalistic.

He best the best way forward is to avoid being extremely corrupt so as to complete projects with a high level of efficiency and value for money.

“We are generally impressed with Tanzania counterparts, they have gone a little bit further and utilized their money well with same source and same funding like that in Uganda, they have developed Bus terminals connecting to concrete Roads, good Asphalt tarmac roads and they been able to establish laboratories at the level of every municipality and established office structures that will be handled over to every municipality after all projects are concluded,” Okumu said.

Godfrey Onzima (Aringa North County, Yumbe District) attributed the Tanzania success to the proper planning of all project implementers and contractors.

He applauded them for the early proper preparations and sticking to their plan which has shown great success in the phase one of their work.

“Tanzanian people know where their country should go and quite committed in their work. They plan, stick and focus to their plan and that is why their first phase is ending so successfully unlike in Uganda where Soroti, Mbale, Moroto, Tororo, Fort-portal plans were altered with,” Onzima said.

Rehema Watongola (Kamuli Municipality) attributed the successful implementation of the projects to the procurement systems which were fully decentralized as entities procured different services and therefore she called on the Ugandan government to emulate the same practices.

“The Tanzanians has created good procurement system that runs from national to the municipal levels whereas in Uganda their procurement structure is only at the national level and this cannot give them the opportunity to monitor properly, we hope that the support team in Uganda will be able to structure themselves up to down,” Watongola said.

Okumu concluded by appealing to the Government and Municipalities to adopt the committee recommendations especially as they prepare for the second phase of the World Bank funded projects that will be beginning in July next financial year.

Members of the committee visited Tanzania’s Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) in in Dar Es Salaam, Road works in Morogoro and Revenue enhancement projects in Dodoma, all financed under the arrangement and their main focus was infrastructure improvement in municipalities, sewerage management, capacity building, availability of tools and equipment in areas of survey and engineering and testing the quality of material used.