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Officials decry night bribery and extortion at closed Karuma Bridge

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

Officials from Northern Uganda have accused Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and security personnel currently managing Karuma bridge, of bribery and extortion, claiming that truck drivers are being ordered to pay Shs300, 000, while buses Shs200, 000 per route to use the bridge at night, saying such greedy and selfish acts are endangering lives of people using a bridge that was closed off after developing cracks.

The MPs included; Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South), alongside Judith Peace Achan (Nwoya DWR), Boniface Okot (Youth Northern), Linda Auma (Lira DWR) & Denis Oneka (Kitgum Municipality) raised the concern during a press briefing at Parliament, where they decried the high cost of living in their region following the closure of the bridge, due to disruptions in trade.

“The trucks and buses come during day time, and park near Karuma bridge. At night hours, the truck owners pay Shs300, 000 and are allowed to cross the bridge which was closed. The buses are paying Shs 200, 000 to cross Karuma. Now we are looking as if UNRA must be conniving with security personnel that are blocking the bridge to extort money from the truck owners and buses that are moving to Northern Uganda. As if at night hours, the bridge becomes stronger and during day time, the bridge is weak,” said Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South).

Judith Peace Achan (Nwoya DWR) noted that there has been a high increment in transport fares and inflation in commodities for the men and women who do business in Northern Uganda just because of that diversion.

“We got disturbing information that the traders are being charged and from the time they do business, they don’t meet the deadline. Sometimes, the good get rotten on the way because they have to wait for the time that they can bribe the security men at the bridge,” noted

Linda Auma (Lira DWR) stated that this is putting the users of these means of transport at risk because they are aware that UNRA temporarily closed the usage of this bridge especially for heavy trucks because of its status at the moment that is not safe for human usage.

She stated, “The security team that is manning this bridge is using it for its financial advantage, by putting the lives and businesses that are being transported at risk due to their selfish interests of getting money at night.”

Boniface Okot (Youth Central) said that Northern Uganda is part of Uganda and Northern Uganda has 8million citizens and all these are people who pay taxes they always have to organize press conferences in order for these people to access a public good. There was a commitment from UNRA that it will take them only three months to have a re-construction of Karuma but until now when you go to the bridge, there is hardly any progress; there is no equipment on site. Adding, “We are wondering what kind of calendar UNRA uses. Do they use the Gregorian calendar or the Hebrew calendar to make these commitments?”

Okot added, “Northern Uganda is bleeding because we need urgent and affirmative action on infrastructure projects and bridges. UNRA needs to inform the region if they derive pleasure when the poorest region in the country with a very high poverty rate is being charged very high prices of commodities on account of their failure to properly manage the reconstruction of this bridge, their extortions, their delays and their diversions.”

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