By Ronald Kule
A 250 million shillings mini irrigation project in Muhokya Sub County is on the verge of collapsing, seven years after it was handed over to the local community in the area by the project funder Belgium Technical Corporation (BTC).
The irrigation project constructed under the Kasese District Poverty Reduction Program in 2012 to benefit 200 commercial farmers in the drought stricken Muhokya area has been hampered by local politics and conflict of interest, leaving it in a dilapidated state.
The farmers accuse the scheme management led by the area local council (i)s and (ii)s chairpersons for turning the scheme into their personal project.
Deo Kwatoti who worked as a supervisor during the construction of the dams on behalf of the farmers and John Bosco Kyaligonza the former chairperson for the scheme all blame their area chairpersons for overstepping on the farmers’ rights to personalize the project.
It is alleged that Muhokya farmers association which is Incharge of the scheme levies a water fee of 300.000shs annually to farmers to access the irrigation water.
However no maintenance works or repairs have been done since the scheme was handed over to farmers 2013.
The Scheme Management chairperson Costa Mbakania and the Rutooke village chairperson who doubles as one of the water channel leaders in the scheme Andrew Mateela, denies the allegation saying they no longer collect any maintenance fee from the farmers and are not responsible for the mismanagement of the scheme.
Koen Sneyers a former assistant engineer of the project on behalf of the Belgium Technical Corporation says it is disheartening for such a multi-million community project to be embroiled in local politics to the level of its collapse.
Both the Kasese District Agricultural Officer Julius Rukara and the District Chairperson were not available for comments by press time.
But our reporter later learnt that the Kasese district vice chairman Gideon Ntabosi has been engaging the local leaders and farmers in Muhokya on ways of sustaining the project. END