By Elema Robert
Yumbe. The locals here are in a move to block roads leading to Bidi-bidi refugee settlement over failure by the UN agencies and the implementing partners to maintain them.
The issue dominated the district budget conference on Monday where the district leaders put to task the OPM and UNHCR officials to explain why they are not maintaining the roads yet their heavy trucks damage the roads most.
Jane Alejo the secretary for social services said UNHCR and the partners feel that the roads they should work on are the ones in the settlement but they don’t know how the vehicles reach the settlement.
She said some of the community access roads have been badly damaged by the heavy trucks that transport food and nonfood items to the settlement.
“This time if UNHCR and the implementing partners don’t maintain the damaged roads, we shall organize the youths to block the roads. Let them access the settlement by jumping over our community access roads with their vehicles but if we don’t do this, our roads will not improve,” she said.
UNHCR is currently implementing re-hope projects in the district which only tackles the issue of construction of health facilities, classroom, administration blocks and staff houses.
Elias Wudango one of the chairperson in the settlement said the issue of poor roads and broken culverts have become a threat to the refugee community in the settlement.
“When we came newly, the roads in the settlement were fine but when reaching rain season, all culverts were damaged and this indicates that there were cases of shoddy work in settlement. Handling emergencies cases has become very difficult especially at night where ambulances take long to reach the community” he said.
Bernard Ayimani the district engineer said the problem didn’t arise because of lack of supervision of the roads leading to shoddy works as alleged but this time it is the increased axial load on the roads and the increased water regime/floods that have excavated the roads.
He said the best option is to reinstate the washouts which needs money but following the the refugee influx into Yumbe, there has been no additional budget provided from the ministry to maintain the roads so the district remained at the original plan of the budget.
“Much as the roads are badly damaged, we don’t have hope as a district that we shall reinstate the roads. We shall continue the same way because we didn’t get an additional funding from the ministry to maintain roads,” he said.
He added that this matter will continue to cause stress to the community until everything comes at a standstill but the fear is one time, people may up rise and get tired over the matter.
Robert Baryamwesiga the settlement commandant said plans are under way to fix some of the damaged roads.
He said OPM has an engagement with the district leadership where resolutions have been made on how to maintain the roads outside the settlement and the district is going to initiate that process with support from the UN.
“We have contractors on ground to fix some of the roads and we have also initiated sector working groups and we want to ensure that UN agencies, implementing partners and the district leaders work together to address the challenges that may arise in sectors like health, roads, education, water and sanitation, protection, infrastructure” he said.