Locals sleep in classrooms as Finance hides money for disasters

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Members of Parliament have tasked the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to come up with a long term strategic plan that provides a proactive action plan in dealing with disasters in the country.

The legislators argued that the areas currently experiencing disasters have previously been prone to the same kind of disasters over time and therefore the government should have a plan that better prepares these areas to avert disaster or minimise its effects.

The MPs were responding to a Ministerial statement on floods, landslides and windstorm disasters presented by Hon. Musa Ecweru, the Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness during a plenary session on Wednesday 13th September, 2017.

The Ministerial statement is on the government’s response to the floods, landslides and windstorm disasters resulting from the above-normal rainfall in the second rainy season that is likely to go on until December 2017.

Hon. Richard Gafabusa Muhumuza (Bwamba County) said that many areas which are prone to these kinds of disasters have no long term action plan being implemented or in place by the government.

“The ministries concerned also take long to respond to these issues when we raise them; they are very casual when it comes to handling these disasters yet we need them to understand the urgency of the matter. People are sleeping in classrooms in places like Bundibugyo yet I presented to them a disaster status report,” Gafabusa said.

Furthermore, Hon. Hassan Fungaroo Kaps (Obongi County) said that the ministry is not doing its job well, which is to be prepared for any forthcoming disaster.

“We need to see the ministry acting proactively; that is why it is called the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, so that it can be prepared,” he said.

Hon. Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South County) said that the floods can be averted in due time if the government took a proactive stance. “It is not a very complicated thing to do because we have the people trained to do that but instead the Ministry responds after disaster has befallen,” Olanya added.

On the other hand, Hon. Susan Amero (Amuria District) said, “Parliament availed money for disaster at committee level but the Ministry of Finance deemed it fit to retain some of this money, which is wrong.”

Amero said that the Ministry of Finance needs to reimburse all the money it has got from the contingency fund allocated to the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness so that it efficiently carries out its work.

In response, Hon. Ecweru assured the House that when he visits the affected areas, he will travel with colleagues from the relevant Ministries so that they can make pronouncements on issues of destroyed roads, schools and hospitals.

“We have plans to create systems that can avert and help people to be cushioned from the challenges of these emergencies and disasters,” he said.

The Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, said the committee responsible should examine the issue critically and handle the issues arising with regard to the contingency fund and the comprehensive long-term disaster preparedness plan.