The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga has expressed displeasure over government’s refusal to support development initiatives in Busoga sub-region, which she attributes to high poverty levels in the region.
According to Kadaga, government development initiatives and projects extended to the region have caused minimal impact in getting the people out of poverty, but efforts by local leaders to fight poverty in the region are shunned by government, leaving poverty to thrive in the area.
The Speaker made the remarks during a meeting with officials from a rural development organization, Busoga Consortium Rural Development Agency (BUCORUDA), in her office on Friday. The meeting was also attended by Uganda’s Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda.
“We designed a program for the emancipation of Busoga, the president launched it in Mayuge, but it was not funded. We went for another round; designed another program, invited him to Jinja for the launch – again no funding! We said lets scale it down -scaled it down and handed it over to the president; the next thing we saw was Operation Wealth Creation. OWC was our proposal which was plagiarized, without acknowledgement!” Kadaga said.
She said the Basoga were very much saddened when government rejected a proposal by World Bank to repair the Port of Jinja and opted for Bukasa port instead. She said the project was a lost opportunity to Busoga since the program involved upgrading all landing sites and construction of roads in the region which would greatly benefit the region in terms of development.
Kadaga also said Busoga region lost an opportunity when government chickened out the Regional Tier arrangement, which they expected would benefit the region owing to the region’s diverse natural endowments. She said the region was economically handicapped by the collapse of the railway which became a big factor that contributed to poverty in Busoga, since it propelled trade in the region.
On education in Busoga, Kadaga she is concerned that the Maritime University which the president ledged to Busoga, to be stationed at Namasagali has not taken off since 2015 yet it would be a factor in development since Jinja is the great lakes of Uganda, and requires marine transport. She said the absence of a university is testimony of inequity to the Basoga.
“If you look around you see Gulu University, Munni University, Mbarara University, Kabale University…Soroti University, Busitema, but this huge area? we think it is important that there is equity in the country” she said. With 11 Districts, Kadaga says Busoga is the only region without a University which is not fair.
Kadaga said government should improve visibility of government support in Busoga sub-region and urgently fund the Kampala-Jinja Express way project, as one of the means to address the issue of economic imprisonment the people of Busoga are in.
Once teeming with textiles, steel rolling mills and copper smelters, Busoga –the one time fulcrum of Uganda’s industry – has gone down under, with industries pegged back by years of neglect, mismanagement and the 1990’s wave of privatization. As the industries went into ruins, so did the major source of employment for the natives, leaving the region falling among the poorest in Uganda.
Despite being blessed with fertile soils, minerals of immense value and a strategic location for tourism, development in the eastern region has been slow with a 2017 UBOS report ranking it as having the highest poverty incidence at 35.7% from 24.5% in 2012.