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Renovation of Sir Samuel Baker School Hangs in Balance :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Renovation of Sir Samuel Baker School Hangs in Balance

Gulu District Chief Administrative Officer Ismail Ochengel explains that a jurisdiction row between the district and city council officials over custody of the fund affected the works.
Gulu District Chief Administrative Officer Ismail Ochengel speaks to Uganda Radio Network during an interview in Gulu City.

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The renovation of Sir. Samuel Baker Secondary School hangs in balance after Gulu District Local Government returned to the treasury 3 billion Shillings. 

Three years ago, the government planned for the renovation of the school and earmarked 3 billion shillings for its phased facelift. 

At the time of the planning, the school was under the Gulu District Local Government administration before the creation of the Gulu City Council in July 2020.

The renovation works were meant to start in the financial year 2021/22 when the Finance Ministry made the first disbursement of 1.9 billion shillings. 

But Gulu District Chief Administrative Officer Ismail Ochengel explains that a row between the district and city council officials over custody of the funds affected the works.

Ochengel says whereas the Gulu City officials were right on the jurisdiction for the project, the district could not ransfer the money into their accounts without the approval of the Finance Ministry.

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According to Ochengel, the district early last month received another 1.1 billion shillings from the Finance Ministry for the same course but notes that they could not be transferred to the City council. 

In total, he says the 3 billion shillings the district received for the project have been taken back into the consolidated fund at the end of the financial year 2022/23.

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He says they have since written to the Finance Ministry requesting the Indicative Planning Figure (IPF) for the school renovation be allocated to the Gulu City Council instead of the district to facilitate the renovation works this financial year.

Gulu City Council Mayor Alfred Okwonga however faults the district local government authorities for their reluctance and failure to cooperate over the transfer of the funds to the city. 

He says the delayed remittance of the fund to the city council has affected the development of the school which is currently in a sorry state.

Okwonga advised the Finance Ministry to consider remitting the fund for the renovation of the school into the city accounts to ease its implementation.

“We have advised them (the government) to send the money directly to Gulu City since we are an independent local government so that we stop the back-and-forth struggle with Gulu District. If they can send it directly to Gulu City, it will be much easier to implement the project,” says Okwonga.

Simon Peter Torach, the Headteacher of Sir Samuel Baker Secondary School says the school has seen a low enrollment of students due to poor infrastructure and limited learning facilities.

Torach says they are currently having challenges in accommodating students since one of the dormitories got burnt, while the main Library and computer laboratory remain nonfunctional.

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He also expressed skepticism on the possibility of the government ever returning the money for the renovation purposes and called on the relevant officials to make a follow-up.

Commissioned in 1953, Sir Samuel Baker Secondary School was named after British Explorer Sir Samuel Baker and shone in the region as a center of academic excellence. 

However, over the years, the school has seen a drop in its academic glory and student enrolment. In 2018, the school opened its doors to girls in a bid to revive its glory and enrollment but the move was dropped this academic year 2023.

Currently, the school has a population of only 286 students, down from 500 in 2020.

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