LOP visits disaster-hit Mbale, criticises sluggish response from government

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, has criticised the government’s slow response to evacuate as well as offer relief support to Ugandans in the disaster-prone districts of the Elgon sub-region.

Mpuuga on Thursday, 04 August 2022 led a team of Opposition Members of Parliament on a visit to assess the extent of the damage and government response to last weekend’s flash floods that left at least 23 people dead and hundreds more displaced after several rivers notably Nabuyonga, Namatala, and Nashibiso burst their banks triggering floods in Mbale city.
“The disaster that is the flash floods, is an act of God but the consequences could have been avoidable if there was a government in name and action,” Mpuuga said.

Meeting the city’s disaster committee, the MPs were told that while they had received relief food and 150 tarpaulin covers, distribution of the same to the victims had failed to kick off since the Shs 1.2 million disbursed by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was inadequate.
“Iam not surprised by the sluggish response of the regime but shocked by their ineptness even when it’s all clear that there’s a disaster in this sub-region,” Mpuuga said.

“Contingency funds should go to the local governments because the real business to do with that money is [at the local government level], not in Kampala. Since every district or city has a disaster management team, it must be funded from the budget,” he added.

He did not spare the Police leadership that he accused of “ineptness” when it comes to responding to emergencies.
“A major road was [cut off by the floodwaters] and the Police in this region could not block the roads to stop traffic from moving,” Mpuuga said.

Several cars got submerged at Nabuyonga river bridge along the Mbale - Soroti Road after the river burst its banks.

Mpuuga demanded the resignation of the police commanders in the area as the Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe, accused the Police of negligence and failure to manage and coordinate rescue efforts.

A group of cyclists and commercial truck drivers that retrieved the bodies from the fast-running waters of River Nabuyonga told the Opposition MPs that the government had failed to pay for their services.

Mpuuga gave them Shs500,000 in appreciation of their efforts before proceeding to hand over foodstuffs to residents of Malukhu slum.

The MPs also toured the Sino-Uganda Industrial Park, Mbale, which went out of production after the floods submerged the production machines and raw materials.

The industrial park’s management said the losses they incurred are worth millions of dollars.

Mpuuga said that the loss at the industrial park should be an eye opener for the government to stop giving away wetlands to investors.
“For us who care about the environment, that was a very bad decision and the government has to make a choice either to compensate them or allocate land anew but without a remedy that is artificial, more loss is going to be visited. Because of that interference with nature, even the poor people in the surroundings are suffering because the park was a water catchment area,” Mpuuga said.