Lord councillors are questioning why Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA has failed to pay the salaries of street cleaners. The cleaners in their hundreds operate under the division SACCOs formed in 2014 and Seven Hills group established in early 2021.
Seven Hills started as a volunteer group before expressing interest in paid employment. The SACCOs whose contract expired on September 15, 2021, have continued working hoping to be paid as the case has been previously. However, the workers didn’t receive any pay until December 2021. Sources say that KCCA made half-pay in December last year to cover for September.
Since then, many have not received a coin from KCCA and a few who did receive some money last week reportedly received only 40,000 or 70,000 Shillings on their accounts. Many casual workers earn between Shillings 120,000 and 150,000 monthly. As for the Seven Hills group, sources says that KCCA has paid in bits 100 members per division. Those who have been paid hold supervisory positions or have Godfathers in the National Resistance Movement party-NRM and KCCA, URN has learnt.
The rest are surviving on hope. Faridah Nakabugo, the Lubaga South A and chairperson of the KCCA Engineering Standing Committee, says that the authority has for years mishandled the issue of casual workers. She cites foul play from the time the workers independently employed were incorporated in SACCOs. She wants KCCA to explain why they haven’t paid the workers as well as devise means to pay them for the work done.
Nababugo wonders why KCCA has not awarded the contract for the city cleaning job. When the SACCOS contract expired, KCCA said they needed three months to issue another contract and promised to do so by January 2022.
The city cleaning contract is issued under a reservation scheme that targets single mothers, old people and people living with HIV among other vulnerable groups. The issuance of the contract has been following an internal bidding process in, which KCCA makes a quotation and makes a comparison with the SACCOS’ quotation before agreeing on the terms before awarding the contract.
Although KCCA last year said the process had started, it is unclear where the process stalled. Nakabugo says KCCA technical staff is not open enough about the process and thinks it is intended to frustrate workers to leave their job such that a new group, under the guardianship of some KCCA officials can takeover.
Lubaga North 1 councillor Jeremiah Keeya Mwanje says that KCCA has a human resource problem from the top that needs to be addressed. He says there is no transparency from the technical staff of KCCA regarding payment of casual workers and issuance of contracts, an act he finds fishy.
He says KCCA has not explained not only the failure to pay and renew or award contract but also their relationship with the Seven Hills, which mysteriously evolved from a volunteer to a paid group.
Keeya says there is no confusion except that some people benefit from it and this is what he’s reading from the situation at KCCA. He says the council should investigate the matter and ensure cleaners are paid and the job streamlined.
On his part, Francis Mbaziira, the chairperson of the standing committee of Public Health at KCCA, says that the Authority should urgently address the matter before it gets out of hand. He is concerned that KCCA has not pronounced itself clearly on the operations of both SACCOS and Seven Hill group keeping Hundreds of workers in jobs without payment.
What is more of concern is the Seven Hill group, which he says KCCA has not laboured enough to explain their relationship with it. Members of the group were previously accused of attacking workers from SACCOS and private companies contracted by KCCA to collect garbage in the City.
He says from his investigations as a committee head, he has learnt that from each of the five divisions, there are only 100 registered Seven Hill workers who are being paid. Each of them has more than three people from the same group also registered that they are supposed to share some money with.
Mbaziira says there are a lot of glaring questions regarding the payment of Causal workers, how Seven Hill members are paid and under what terms, which KCCA should come out and explain. He is concerned that if KCCA doesn’t resolve the confusion and clearly define who it’s working with, under what conditions and also pay workers, cleaners shall abandon their work causing a sanitation crisis in the City.
On his part, the workers representative, Bismarck Sempijja, says that the government institutions still employed workers as casuals for years, which is unfortunate because the employment Act provides for a maximum of six months for one to work as a casual worker.
Sempijja says he engaged the KCCA Executive Director, Dorothy Kisaka who told him that KCCA wants to streamline the work of casual labourers and have them employed as individuals not under SACCOS hence the delay.
That SACCOs have not been paying workers promptly while in some cases, ghost workers were also listed for payment. Regardless, Sempijja says KCCA needs to move faster to pay Casual workers their arrears and issue a contract for job security.
KCCA has not yet commented on the matter as the deputy spokesperson, Robert Kalumba said he was in a meeting. Our reporter called back as told and Kalumba still said he was in a meeting. There are over 3500 casual workers employed under SACCOS and over 2000 from the Seven Hill group.
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