By Candia Stephen
Arua-The commissioner Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban development has cautioned civil servants in districts and Municipalities against avoiding the Media and hiding information from the public.
And the media has been faced with heinous bureaucratic procedures, concealment under the guise that the information is confidential. This still renders the Access to Information Act toothless because some civil servants have remained unfriendly in accessing information by the media.
On Friday during a meeting during the USMID program with Arua Municipality leaders, Joseph Walter Paddy issued a directive to the officials to be open and release information especially on financial releases, expenditures of taxpayer’s money and awards of contracts on government works to the media.
The Commissioner said technocrats should not to fear going to the press to release and share information regarding releases and developments in their areas.
The Commissioner in Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Walter Paddy speaking during the meeting in Arua. Photos by Felix
“Let the people know about what developments are taking place in the district and the Municipality. Do not fear to go to the press on such matters,” Paddy said.
During the recent Public dialogues by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda and Center for Public Interest Law and EAMI, the public called upon the district leaders to be open and speak to media freely on the developments in the district.
Some local governments do not value advertising or having supplements on the newspapers on grounds that they are expensive and no money is allocated for such. But principally, some of the local governments conceal the dealings from public as they fear accountability queries that could be raised by the taxpayers.
The PS’s directive comes after the IGG West Nile tasked Arua Municipality to display all information on USMID to the public on notice boards and in the Media as a measure of transparency and to keep the beneficiaries informed.
A copy of notice pinned on a tree trunk by office of District Service commission Arua. Photo by Felix
The Arua Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Peter Debele warned the district and municipal leaders threatening that he would stop transfer of any funds by central government if the officials do not advertise government projects in the media.
“I am going to step on your feet if you do not let the public know of any works being undertaken both on Media and Notice boards,” Debele warned.
However the Town Clerk Arua Municipality, Otim Andrew Kibwota, promised to ensure that all information regarding public works is put to the notice of the people.
He also noted that at least six Barazas were organized since the first USMID project was kick-started and that this helped to get the people’s views on issues of development in the Municipality.