Ntungamo-The Kajara county Member of Parliament Hon. Micheal Timuzigu Kamugisha says the ban on social and other public events including public community work, political rallies, burials and parties over lockdown following COVID-19 effects has saved him over Ushs 60M in four months, the money he is currently using to finance grading of 36 kilometers of roads in Kajara constituency.
Hon. Kamugisha had put aside a fund for burials and parties in his constituency and was contributing funds on every community project conducted at villages in the constituency especially on roads, schools, water projects and other church and community fundraisings.
“I had set up a fund to help me, that with or without money I don’t get ashamed of keeping my promises or falling into debts. The fund helps me to first of all calculate what I spend on the constituency and how it changes the lives of people. Most of the events I was spending at including burials and parties were banned, social gatherings including community works (bulungi bwa nsi) could not take place and I did not spend the money,” Mr Timuzigu said.
Mr Timuzigu says he was giving a condolence contribution of UShs 50,000 at every burial in the 299 villages in the constituency, with that only taking over Ushs 6M a month contributing to fundraisings at least Ushs12M a month, churches and had set aside UShs 3m for community service every month.
The community service money is used to buy materials and provide meals for residents engaged in community work. Such works include repairing roads and bridges, community water extension and repairing water facilities, construction on schools and other works.
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“I would find at times spending over a million shillings every day when the constituency is busy but it reduced with time because works also reduced but I kept my budget because I’ve never wanted to be caught off guard, even in lockdown when there was almost zero activity I had to keep the fund,” he says.
Following heavy rains that destroyed most of the roads and bridges in the constituency at the beginning of April Mr Timuzigu engaged the district and sub county leaders over the status but the district and the sub counties had no funds to work on repairs and UNRA was equally not responding. The constituency committee including sub county chairpersons, sub county chiefs, parish and village leaders resolved that the fund be used to grade the roads.
“The district road machines were down, we had to first make major repairs, I bought two hoes for the grader, we are fueling the grader and paying operators daily and this work is supervised by village leaders wherever they pass. The constituency committee resolved that we work on the most affected roads 36 Km and we also repaired 16 bridges including those on UNRA roads for our products to have access to the markets.” Mr Kamugisha says.
The Nyamunuka town council/Bwongyera sub county female councilor who is also the district vice chairperson Ms Sakina Ampaire says the MP works on the roads have been a rescue effort as the district had no money to work on the emergency repairs and UNRA had disappointed over bureaucracy.
“The rains came in at a time when we least expected damages on roads. A time when we could not meet and even major offices were closed. If we had to wait for the government money our people may have hanged us. But he came in and saved the situation.” Ms Ampaire who also doubles as the secretary for Finance at the district said.
Repairs have been done on Katinda Bridge on the Katinda- Nyabushenyi Rwashamaire road which has also been graded. The bridge had been completely washed away, grading the Rwamabondo- Kabukyera road, Rutunguru- Nyabushenyi road, Nyamunuka- Rweitanzi among other roads.
Mr Niwagaba Simprisio the Rwanda village chairperson says the Lockdown distanced most leaders from the constituencies however the work done on the road passing through the village funded by the MP provides an example to what government should have done using the money they never spent on major activities during COVID-19 lockdown.
Equally, Hon.Timuzigu says the unspent balances due to COVID-19 would have been redirected to funding basic infrastructure including health units, roads and schools if the government was ready to reallocate