By Ambrose Kweronda
A Shs850m fish farming project, which was meant to improve the livelihood of youth in Kanungu District, has been abandoned by those responsible over it
The project was proposed by Kanungu Youth Development Association (KAYODEA) in 2017, in a bid to fight unemployment among the youth in the district.
However, Mr Juma Mugisha, the secretary of KAYODEA, said the project was hijacked by the Kanungu District Youth Council, who mismanaged it.
“Whereas KAYODEA was the lead organisation working with the State House team led by controller Lucy Nakyobe to ensure the implementation of the project, the Kanungu District Youth Council felt they had been side-lined and requested to be brought on board,” Mr Mugisha said.
In 2017, during a dinner which President Museveni attended, the KAYODEA youth led by Godfrey Niwagaba, presented their work plan that included a fish farming project proposal that they said could improve their welfare because of its multiplier effect; by providing a chain of employment opportunities from farming to marketing.
This request was approved by the President and two weeks later, Shs850m was released to the group.
Mugisha said the district local council passed a motion allocating them a piece of land at Maizimera in Kihihi Town Council for the project.
When President Museveni visited Kanungu District on December 21, 2018, to commission the construction works of Kanungu – Rukungiri Road, he also commissioned the fish farming project
By then the youth were reportedly breeding fish in six fish ponds at the site.
The President was pleased with the progress of the project and directed Ms Nakyobe to secure extra funding for the project to ensure that it becomes the model project in western Uganda.
However, last year, youth leaders allegedly harvested and sold fish worth Shs55 million, but this money has not been accounted for, according to Mr Mugisha.
The leadership wrangles attracted the attention of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Shafique Ssekandi, and the two groups were asked to form a management committee.
“This created a lot of misunderstandings between the two groups and KAYODEA decided to pull out of the project, leaving it in the hands of the district youth council leaders, who failed to man it since they lacked its concept knowledge,” Mr Mugisha said.
Mr Niwagaba, who handed the project proposal to President Museveni, said their project was politicized thus affecting its progress
“The top leaders in the district are watching yet they know the truth, because they all witnessed it right from presentation of the project proposal, and subsequent events, but they have let it go to waste,” Mr Niwagaba said.
When contacted, Mr Martin Kafanta Atukwase, a member of the youth council, denied that the council had ruined the project.
He referred Daily Monitor to Mr Eliab Nasasira, the chairperson of the projects committee.
Mr Nasasira declined to comment on the matter saying he is not the spokesperson of the district youth council.
Currently, the fish ponds have dried up and the few surviving fish are dying from starvation. All workers, including the security personnel left due to non-payment of salaries and allowances.
Mr Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaju, the Kanungu deputy Resident Commissioner, said the fish project has been left to go to waste yet its objective was to transform the livelihood of youth in Kanungu.
He explains that after selling the fish from the first harvest, the youth leaders never took the responsibility to restock and buy feeds for the remaining fish. The workers are also demanding their payments for at least eight months. Someone must give accountability because it is saddening to see what is happening at the project,” Mr Rugaju said.
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