By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. Cabinet has directed Ministry of Finance to immediately avail Shs32.7billion for the relocation of residents from the Bugishu floods and mudslide prone areas.
Disaster Preparedness Minister Musa Ecweru briefed journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday morning that cabinet had resolved and directed that resettlement of people from the mudslide susceptible areas should be done immediately.
In the sitting of Cabinet yesterday (Monday) chaired by His Excellence the President, Cabinet directed resettlement of persons at risk of landslides to begin immediately in the 2868acres and I want to emphasize that I have just received a call as I was coming that, I should be going to launch the exercise a day after tomorrow (Thursday),” Minister Ecweru said.
“Cabinet has made money available for these activities to begin immediately,” he added, revealing that overall 32billion shillings has been approved. He emphasized however, that the funds will be released in phases according to the work being done at the time.
Government in 2010 acquired the 2800acres of land in Bunambutye Sub County in Bulambuli district, for resettlement of people from the mudslide prone areas. This followed another mudslide disaster then in which more than 150 people were killed and 10,000 others displaced in Nametsi, Bududa District.
The cabinet directive follows the last Thursday mudslide disaster that covered 13 villages in Bududa district. According to Minister Ecweru so far 43 bodies have been recovered while 21persons are nursing injuries in the various health facilities.144houses were washed away, while 858people were displaced and overall 12,000persons are affected.
The Minister who blamed the delayed relocation efforts in the past on the role of some local politicians and unwillingness of the people to move, said the exercise is now possible since there is consensus.
“I am happy to note that resettlement is now possible because there is consensus, both the people and politicians are accepting relocation particularly those at high risk,” the Minister Ecweru said.
Bugishu Hit by 67landslides in five months
Minister Ecweru disclosed that, last week’s mudslide was the 67th in the region since the onset of the First Season rains in May this year.
“The landslides which happened in Namisindwa, Manafwa, Sironko, Bududa and Bulambuli were however effectively managed by OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) Disaster Preparedness Department and the respective District Disaster Management Committees, with zero deaths though many houses, livestock and gardens were destroyed,” the Minister said.
The Disaster Department has trained communities in each parish up the Elgon Mountain on how to monitor early signals of landslides. Community leaders have been given smart phones and mega phones to alert one another and communicate with the Disaster Department.
“The communities take pictures and videos and send them for analysis at the National Emergency Operations and Coordination Centre (NECOC) based in OPM which is 24hours operational seven days a week,” the Minister revealed.