Updates on the Uganda Parliament.
The 7th Sitting of the 2nd Meeting of the 2nd Session of the 11th Parliament of Uganda was presided over by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Anitah Among. In her communication, she said she and the whole House were not happy with the Front Bench. “We are going to discuss important matters but the ministers are not here to respond. We have many ministers but there is only one here”, she said.
She also said that Parliament had raised concern over the urgent need to stem road carnage. “The safety of our roads depends on us the road users, vehicles/cycles, and road conditions. These factors influence road safety separately or in combination”. She said that while the government continues to devise means of effectively regulating Boda Boda operations, a lot of the effort has been on the enforcement of safety standards especially the use of helmets and reflector jackets. “The success of such operations is usually hampered by unnecessary politicization. Road safety knows no political affiliation and anybody can be a victim. Hence the need for collective effort”, she said.
She added that well, aware that oftentimes road traffic accidents are also a result of the habits and behavior of road users, there is a need for strict regulation of registration and licensing of Boda Boda operations including riding proficiency, awareness of traffic rules and regulations, and general safety considerations and subjecting riders to regular riding proficiency tests as a precondition for license renewal.
Later, the House observed a moment of silence in honour of Mark Bahati, who had been a driver in the Office of the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
Later, the Koboko Municipality MP, and Chair Health Committee Hon. Dr. Charles Ayume presented a statement (attached) on the magnitude of road traffic injuries reported to public hospitals in Uganda and the cost of treatment. This report comes from a study aimed at estimating the financial cost of healthcare for injuries due to road traffic accidents in Uganda. Through this, the study provides relevant policy and actionable recommendations to stakeholders to reduce road accidents. The report notes that reckless and careless driving is the primary cause of crashes in the country. Between 2019 and 2021, reckless and negligent driving caused a combined total of 33,208 crashes. The report further notes that the number of persons who sustained injuries due to bicycle-related trauma increased from 540 in 2019/20 to 1,585 persons in 2021/22. This was surprising considering that the bicycle isn’t so common in urban centres where the rate of accidents is high.
The report in part notes that while Ug.rrda has a comprehensive and expansive essential package of health services, government financing is lagging. It notes that the primary health care package is still funded mainly through donors (42%) and out-of-pocket (OOP) payments (41%), creating issues for both sustainability and equity. World Health Organization (WHO) also provides a government spending benchmark for low-income countries like Uganda of an estimated $34 per capita as the minimum for an essential generic package. It also notes in addition that the Total Health Expenditure as a percentage of GDP is only 1.3% against the target of 4%. ln FY 2020/21 and FY 2021/22, the Total Health Expenditure was 1.9% and 2.l% of GDP, respectively.
It noted that based on the GDP for FY 2021/22, the allocation to the health sector for FY 2022/23 should have been UGX 6.4 trillion. On the contrary, the budget was UGX 1.5 trillion, leaving an allocation gap of UGX 2.9 trillion. These statistics reveal that Uganda still lags in realizing the UHC financing targets, thus calling for health financing reforms while considering the limited fiscal space.
The report partly recommended that the government of Uganda should require each district to set its limit at or below 50 km/h and actively promote 30 km/h in residential areas to standardize general speed limits in urban areas across the entire nation.
In discussing the report, some Members of Parliament recommended that there should be heavy traffic fines for persons who cause road accidents. On her part, Hon. Suubi Kinyamatama (Rakai Woman MP, Indp) appealed to the Ministry of Works and Transport to consider having all roads lit up to promote Road Safety. She also called for the automation of all road penalties to fight corruption. On his part, Hon. Twaha Kagabo (Bukoto South MP, NUP) blamed the enforcement agencies for neglecting their role in reducing of accidents. “Unless the enforcers are up to their task, nothing will be done to curb the road accidents”, he said.
The Speaker on her part said that there should be regular testing of drivers and riders. “These people learn how to ride in a few days and they are on the road. These should be tested before the permits are issued or renewed”, she said.
Later, Mawogola South MP, Hon. Gorreth Namugga raised an issue of national importance saying the government had put more focus on Covid19 and the Ebola Outbreak and had forgotten about HIV/AIDS which she said was high among young people. “We need to note that people are still dying of HIV/AIDS. What happened to the HIV/AIDS Fund?”, she asked.
Also later, Hon. Hellen Kahunde the Kiryadongo Woman MP presented a petition (attached) by the victims of the 2010 Bududa landslides now resettled in Kiryadongo. The Speaker referred the petition to the Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness under the Office of the Prime minister. The Minister was expected to report back to the house in two weeks.
Hon. Nakut Faith, (Napak District Woman MP, NRM) on her part, presented a petition (attached) by members of the Pre-primary Teachers Training Institutions – Uganda. The Speaker referred the petition to the Committee of Education and Sports for perusal, analysis, and provide recommendations. The Committee was expected to report back to the house in 45 days.
Later, the House also moved to consider a motion for the adoption of the report of the committee on Human Rights on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Annual Reports of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) for the years 2018 to 2021.
Responding to the report, Hon. Olanya Gilbert Kilak South County, FDC) was concerned that there are many inmates in prisons who have never been presented to Court. He called on the government to look into the matter. In the same vein, Hon. Katusabe Godfrey Atkins (Bukonzo West MP, FDC) raised the issue of the continued incarceration of the royal Guards and their King while denying them a speedy trial. He also said a number of the royal guards required medication that was not available in the prison health facilities. On his part Hon Aogon Silas, (Kumi Municipality MP, Indp) demanded an update from the Executive on the progress of implementation of the Human Rights Enforcement Act. While, Alebtong District Woman MP, Hon. Dorcas Acen (NRM) said the juveniles in detention centres are living under very poor conditions. “When we visited these centres, we found that these young people are doing badly. They don’t have enough food; we need to look into their plight”, she said.
On her part Hon. Naluyima Ethel (Wakiso Woman MP, NUP) asked the Ministry of Local Government and Chief Administrative officers (CAOs) to ensure that District Human Rights Committees are established and operationalized in all districts across the country.
Also, the Hon. Joyce Bagala, the Mityana Woman MP, NUP) requested that Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka presents to Parliament the report that he presented to the United Nations Committee against Torture. She was concerned that the report did not reflect the Human Rights situation in the Country. On her part, Hon Ocean Aol (DWR, Gulu City, FDC) asked the Uganda Law Reform Commission to review the Public Order Management Act. While Hon. Enosi Asiimwe (Kabula County MP, NRM) appealed to Government through the Minister in charge of Internal Affairs to bring to Parliament a law on Election Financing. He also asked the government to consider having the military out of civilian matters.
However, Hon. Obigah Rose, (Terego Woman MP, NRM) said that as the Committee of Human Rights, they have not been able to identify or locate any Safe Houses in the Country. This was corroborated by the Committee Chair Hon Fox Odoi. The Speaker advised that the Attorney general will be asked to table the Report he made to the UN for the house to debate it.
While the Leader of Opposition Hon. Mathias Mpuuga asked Parliament to adopt Post Legislative Scrutiny. He has suggested that a committee be established to review different laws and look at how these laws work. He said this committee would help to consider the different laws and their functionality and their efficacy in society.
Later the House was adjourned to Wednesday 16th November 2022 at 2:00 pm
Courtesy AFLI and CSBAG Parliamentary Monitoring team.