KAMPALA-Whilst the Premier, Robinah Nabbanja was in Mbale City over the weekend in response to the floods that have displaced scores and killed 24 persons, Speaker Anita Among has directed that the Premier goes back to closely monitor the situation.
Floods caused havoc in Mbale and Kapchorwa districts on Saturday,July 30, 2022.
During plenary sitting on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, Among asked the Premier to return to Mbale City with all the area Members of Parliament and the Ministers for Disaster preparedness to ensure adequate intervention by government is made.
“What we want is a team on the ground. We need action; lamentations here are just for your own good,” said Among.
She also called on government to scale up climate change adaptation and mitigation intervention for sustainable development.
“I also urge the Executive to establish reliable disaster early warning systems to save lives,” she said.
The Member of Parliament for Industrial Division in Mbale City, Hon. Karim Masaba said that the Premier’s visit did not meet the expectations of the flood victims.
“We are grateful but the people were disappointed because we had a lot of expectations when the Prime Minister came. I know you might be planning to do something for us but time is not our best allay. Our people are dying and starving,” said Masaba.
He called for expeditious repair of roads and bridges that were washed away by the floods, saying that the budget of the city cannot facilitate the repairs.
“We have so far counted 1,200 people who are displaced and we expect these numbers to increase because we have not yet reached some areas. A lot of houses, churches, schools and Mosques have been destroyed. Our people do not have where to go for help,” he said.
He said that government should fast-track the resettlement programme for those in flood-prone areas in the Elgon Sub-region.
“This programme was rolled out five years ago. The plan was to construct about 900 houses but as we speak now, there are only 100 houses and with this rain, we expect more danger in case the Prime Minister does not act fast,” said Masaba.
Hon. Miriam Mukhaye said that the disaster has left people in Mbale in a state of uncertainty since they have lost property and lives.
“In Elgon sub-region, we were lucky that we had some rains and people were soon harvesting their crops and all that has been swept away. Responses to such disaster should be done quickly,” said Mukhaye.
The MP also blamed the National Metrological Authority for poor information dissemination saying that people at the grassroots rarely get early warnings on disasters.
“Whenever a disaster happens, it is as if we are waking up to something we did not know. I do not know how many people should die before government intervenes,” she wondered.
Budadiri East MP, Hon. Isaias Ssasaga advised government to implement recommendations made by the Committee on Presidential Affairs following a monitoring visit to disaster-prone areas countrywide.
“The committee report has very good recommendations and they were adopted by this House. If we could look into the implementation of this report, we would avert such disasters,” he said.
He also advised that Elgon Sub-region should be declared a disaster-prone area to allow for more interventions.
Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe faulted the rescue teams on ground saying that they lack skills in rescuing flood victims.
“Even if there are UPDF and police rescue teams, they were sleeping on job. Even when they were called to help, they could not. The retrieved bodies were courtesy of locals,” he said.
The Prime Minister informed legislators that government will urgently embark on restoration of damaged infrastructure in the affected areas.
“Government through the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, under the office of the Prime Minister has provided relief food to the tune of 90 metric tons to Mbale City, Kapchorwa and Mbale district,” said Nabbanja.
She added that government has intensified early warning mechanisms using information from National Metrological Authority and using various media channels like radios and televisions to alert people on pending disasters.
“Police will set up roadblocks to prevent people from crossing dangerous bridges and other locations in case of imminent danger,” she said.
The Premier also said that people who settled in wetlands or settled close to river banks and forests will be evicted.
The Minister of state for disaster preparedness, Hon. Esther Anyakun said that government has developed a 10 year sustainability plan on disaster management.
“It has been approved by Cabinet and it will be brought to Parliament for approval,” said Anyakun.