The mayor of Tororo Municipality, Mr John Opio, was held hostage for hours by angry residents of Juba Village in Western Division, protesting the delayed construction of a bridge.
The residents armed with machetes, stones, hoes and sticks, on Wednesday blocked the mayor’s vehicle from proceeding and demanded for an explanation on why the municipal authorities have failed to work on the bridge since it was swept away by floods early this year.
The broken bridge links Tororo Municipality to Rubongi Rural Sub -county, which acts as a food basket in the district.
“We are tired and we want this bridge worked on,” one of the protesting residents shouted.
The mayor was rescued by police commanded by the District Police Commander, Mr John Rutaagira.
Mr William Omalla, the village LC1 chairperson, said the residents went wild after writing several notices to the municipal council and particularly to the mayor’s office but had not received any response.
“This broken bridge has rendered this village an island of its own. We no longer transport our goods to the market and yet it is our main source of income,” he said.
He added that this has also affected school–going children, who now irregularly attend school especially when it has rained.
“When it rains, children do not go to school because we fear they might drown while crossing,” he said.
He added: “We have reliable information that the municipality Member of Parliament, Mr Apollo Yeri Ofwono, lobbied for culverts, which have been delivered but the municipal authorities have deliberately ignored to fix them,’’ he said.
Mr Amina Ismail, one of the residents, appealed to the government to intervene, saying the local authorities have failed.
“The central government should help us because our local authorities have failed in their work,” he said.
Mr Yeri, however, criticised the technical staff for delaying to fix the bridge.
“I have severally reminded the technical staff to avail the ministry officials with the assessment briefs but they have let me down yet the ministry is willing to assist us,” he said.
Upon his release, the mayor said they are going to ensure that the problem is handled soon.
Town clerk responds
The town clerk, Mr Akuma Muzamil, said: “We are aware of the problem but we are limited by resources. However, in our planning, the contested bridge has been catered for,” Mr Akuma said. He added that the money that the council received under Uganda Road Fund has guidelines attached to it and that they cannot divert the money. He said construction of the bridge requires more than Shs100 million.
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