Water Crisis Paralyses Luzira Prison

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In short
Luzira Prisons was disconnected by National Water and Sewerage Corporation after failing to clear arrears amounting to 5 billion Shillings. The bill accumulated from July last year.

Luzira Prisons is struggling with a water crisis following the disconnection of the facility from the National water Grid.

Luzira Prisons was disconnected by National Water and Sewerage Corporation after failing to clear arrears amounting to 5 billion Shillings. The bill accumulated from July last year. The crisis is affecting families living in the prisons barracks as well as inmates in Luzira Upper Prison, Murchison bay and Remand.

A source who had visited the prison for an evangelism mission told URN that inmates are now  asking their visitors to carry for them water, stating that most of them have not had a bath since last week.

"They need water for drinking, washing and bathing. However the prisons authority can only allow you to carry water in sealed bottles" she said.

Another visitor to the prisons Stella Asiimwe who went to visit an inmate stated that when she took soap and other items, the prisoner cried out for water. She says the prisoners mostly complained of lack of water to shower and added that they wanted to strike on Tuesday over the absence of water.
In Kisenyi, a village in the neighborhood, long queues are formed by residents of the prisons barracks and recruits from the Prisons Training School (PTS) as they seek to buy water from a nearby service point.
A Prison officer who is not authorized to speak to the press says the prisoners have refused to work since they complain of too much dirt after heavy work and yet there is no water.

"We cannot take them to the field to work on projects and even garden work. They are also supposed to be working in the different departments like metal works, carpentry among others but they don't allow" the prison officer says.

URN has learnt that Water tanks supply the three prison facilities for cooking and drinking but this is not adequate. The tanks also supply senior officers in the barracks with water.

When asked on when the water would return, Uganda prisons spokesperson Frank Baine said he did not know since negotiations were still ongoing, on how they are managing the crisis, Baine told this reporter that he would reply later.

Sam Apedel, the spokesperson of National Water and Sewerage Corporation says that both Uganda Prisons, Uganda Police, Uganda Peoples Defense forces and Mulago hospital will be reconnected in due course following negotiations with the Ministry of Finance.

Uganda Police owes national water 6 billion Shillings, Mulago hospital owes 5 billion Shillings and Uganda Peoples defense forces 10 billion Shillings.

"The ministry of finance called and asked us to extend their credit, and by today evening the water should be on, since they are working on the payment. The problem is sometimes these people divert the payment of water and also the fact that they under budget for the fees" he said.

Apedel also noted that now they will work with Government institutions during their budgeting process to allow for proper budgeting. "We want to give them the actual amount they consume, but people should get used to paying for services they consume" he said.


About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.