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OPM orders 700 flood victims to vacate school

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By FELIX BASIIME & LONGINO MUHINDO

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has asked more than 700 people, who were displaced by the December floods in Bundibugyo District, to vacate Semuliki High School premises ahead of the school’s official opening on February 3.

Those that settled in Bubukwanga Transit Camp were also asked to leave although Bundibugyo leaders have no alternative place to relocate them.

In a January 6 letter written by Mr Martin Owori, the commissioner for Disaster Preparedness in the OPM’s office, the locals were asked to vacate with immediate effect.

The Chief Administrative Officer of Bundibugyo District, Mr Richard Sajjabi, confirmed having received a copy of the letter.

“We got directives from OPM last week that all people should leave the camps,” Mr Sajjabi said.

The district chairperson, Mr Ronald Mutegeki, said government should find an alternative place before displacing the people.

“We as leaders are stuck, some of these people have nowhere to go. Where do they go? Their land and homes were swept away,” Mr Mutegeki said.

Floods

On December 7, 2019, rivers Nyaruru, Humya, Lamia, Tokwe, and Ndugutu burst their banks, displacing more than 2,000 people who have since pitched camp at Semuliki High School, and at Bubukwanga Transit Camp.

The Bundibugyo Resident District Commissioner, Ms Grace Kakwenza, said most people cannot access clean drinking water, shelter, food, and clothing since relief aid agencies are no longer supporting them.

Despite forming a district disaster committee to handle several issues of the internally displaced people, no tangible solution has been established for those that are still at the camp.

Since December, some of the affected people kept leaving and going to their ravaged homes while others have taken refuge at relatives’ homes.

Impending Threat

January and February are usually dry months in Bundibugyo, but when Daily Monitor visited the affected areas, there was some water running in the gullies that were created by floods.

Ms Kabasinguzi Kurusumu, the district environmental officer, warns that floods and landslides threat is still high should rain resume.

“Some people have resettled near the water channels and we have advised them to leave. But government also needs to provide an alternative place for relocation,” Ms Kabasinguzi said.