Zombo District: Inside the worsened infrastructure amidst low funding 

The question of what are the leaders doing? , Do we really have leaders in Zombo? , and many other scathing criticisms are currently trickling on various social media platforms and in public gatherings. The youths in the area are using social media to exhibit images of impassable roads laced with potholes, and broken footbridges amongst others. 

Zombo District which became operational in 2011 after breaking away from the then Nebbi District is blessed with a string of rivers like Nyagak, Ora, and Ayuda amongst others. These rivers cut across hills, valleys, and roads and this also means that the district has many footbridges that need to be dealt In case of breakdown.

Unlike other Districts in greater Nebbi, Zombo experiences heavy rainfall seasonally coupled with the hilly nature of the area. This for years has been having a devastating impact on major and access roads not forgetting footbridges. 

Both community access and District roads turn slippery, muddy and impassable, especially during the rainy season and become more dusty during dry seasons. The footbridges are easily swept away by heavy downpours most of the time plunging local and District leaders into a crisis of confidence coupled with increasing service delivery demand.

Zombo District Local Government has a total of 440 kilometres of District and access roads according to the district chairperson James Oruna Oyullu.

A total of 288 km of roads are maintained by the District notwithstanding a series of pleas by local leaders to the district Leadership to take over some of the roads that they deemed unmanageable at the lower local government level owing to resource constraints. 

 Recently, during the commissioning of the Nyagak Footbridge that connects Paidha Town and Nyapea Sub-county at Ngia Village, The LCV chairperson of Zombo District James Oruna Oyullu acknowledged the challenges the district is going through in fixing some roads and footbridges given the limited resources. He said the road fund has dwindled making it super hard for the district to undertake work on crucial in infrastructures in the district.

” Currently, 14 footbridges have been either washed away or broken down but we are trying our best with all the financial challenges,” Oyullu told locals whilst commissioning the Nyagak Footbridge that is just a stone’s throw from Nyagak 1 powerhouse. Though construction of the footbridge was supported by the District and the two lower local governments of Nyapea and Paidha, More than 70% of the resources were mobilized by locals from well-wishers.

Despite the challenges the district is going through, demands from members of the public are spiralling given the devastating status of infrastructure occasioned by heavy downpours lately.

Apparently, a consortium of youths running a vibrant wasup social media group that brings together youths, elders, businessmen and Politicians in Zombo and abroad is running a campaign dubbed ” The Pothole Exhibition Week”. They are sharing photos of potholes, dilapidated and broken footbridges, sorry states of major and access roads amongst others. This they believe is Partly contributing to rampant accident cases.

“We are already engaging community members and leaders and the issues of the road and our request, for now, is a peaceful Demonstration.

Continue posting the evidence of the bad roads in your sub-county and for now, let’s concentrate on both Central and local government roads” Sam Rwothomio said on social media whilst captioning the picture of an impassable road.

One of the members suggested that priority should be on exhibiting potholes on roads under the Uganda National Road Authority.

” I was thinking we should have a priority, if it is the central government road let it be only that meanwhile for the local government road we can always reach the responsible people.it’s my opinion anyway” she said.

Adong Sharon, The former Zombo District woman MP Contestant on the Democratic party ticket equally added her voice in demanding a response from the government on the sorry state of infrastructure in the district.

In some areas, a section of community members are extensively taking matters into their own hands using locally mobilized resources to work on some footbridges and impassable roads.

The 119 kilometres of Nebbi, Paidha, Zombo, Zeu, Warr, Vurra Road. This is the road that has been talked about for ages but the government has been repeating its promise of working on it.

Last year when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni visited Zombo District for the 12th coronation anniversary of Alur King At Atyak seed secondary school play ground, The Zombo District chairperson James Oruna Oyullu, The area MP for Ora County Songa Biyika Lawrence together called upon the president to break the most expected news about the road that it’s sorry state has been heckling it’s users for decades but the President said plan to work on the road is in place without specifying when. The president also made commitment of additional funding of Ugx 1 billion for each local government, cities and municipalities every fiscal year to address the challenge of road infrastructure.This according to local leaders will greatly boost their response to infrastructural challenge.

Recently, Alen Kagina, The executive director of Uganda National Road Authority inspected roads from Pakwach -Panyimur- Parombo- Erusi- Goli _Paidha – Padea – Zombo -Zeu to Vura in Arua .

The good news was that Kagina  gave assurance of taking over the 13 km of Ayuda_Pakadha _Padea road that the district has been facing  myriad of  challenge in fixing.  This came after the district wrote to the ministry of works and transport requesting for it’s take over by the central government since it generate high revenue to the government.

Recently, Zombo district local government was able to upgrade Zale_Ayaka_ Chonguba Road, Atyenda-Chongambe Pakadha Road, Ther-Agu Asina-Abeju road amongst others. Work is ongoing on other roads.

Currently, Songoli footbridge was broken down after An Isuzu truck tried to crossed over it leaving locals especially in the neighboring Alangi subcounty and other places  in a total states of brother. During a council meeting on Friday last week, To District LC5 chairperson and the council speaker acknowledged the concerns saying plan is in place to fix the bridge.

Apparently, The ministry of works and transport has restricted local governments from constructing footbridges using timber and concrete but are instead rooting for concrete and steel bridge construction which to many local governments and lower local governments is not feasible given the limited  resources.

Some of the footbridges timber decked by community with support from well_wishers are Leda footbridge that connects Abanga and Athuma Sub_ counties, Fada footbridge that connects Zombo Town Council and Warr Subcounty, Nyagak Foot bridge that connects Paidha Town Council and Nyapea Sub county ( District leadership and Lower local government leaders from either sides also provided some support), Adolu footbridge that connects Paidha Town Council and Abanga Subcounty amongst others.

The District has allocated over 1  billion of it’s budget in the 2023/2024 financial year for  roads and engineering department.