By Christopher Nyeko

KITGUM: Residents of Lalekan Kapoko tum village, Kiteny Sub County in Kitgum district have raised concern over the death of the children by drowning into Lalekan dam.

Residents say that the state minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem started to rehabilitate the dam in 2020 but later abandoned it after losing the NRM flag.

The development came following the outcry from the community on shortage of water for their animals and domestic use.

According to the residents, during the dry season their animals go astray in search for water, and community members trek for over 10 kilometers  in search for clean drinking water from the neighboring parish.

Residents also contend that Henry Okello Oryem agreed to rehabilitate Lalekan dam when he was still a Member of Parliament for Chua East Constituency Kitgum District in the 10 parliament.

The two children whose lives were claimed by this abandoned unfinished rehabilitated dam were identified as Brian Okello 6 who drown on the 17 December 2021 and  Vicky Lalam Age13 was drown on the 17 December 2020 while fetching water.

The cultural leaders in the area attributed the cause of this death to the destruction of the deity cultural trees which were in the middle of the dam.

“Our respected trees situated at the middle of the dam were uprooted with excavators during the process of extending the width and depths of the dam to enable it to contain much water for use in dry season”.

Kidaga Richard, the curator of the site confessed that the tree should have not been uprooted because it’s deity was highly respected by the ancient people since the establishment of Lalekan dam in the early 60s.

Alfred Okema the Kiteny sub county chairman said the minister started to rehabilitate the dam whole heartedly during the consultation for NRM primary election in 2020 using his own money to implement this project.

“But after losing the primary election to Luwo Godffrey, he then abandoned the project” Oken added.

Okema explained that the excavator paved a very wide dam which created hope in the heart of the community hoping the challenge of water during dry season to be addressed however the it has turned life threatening.

According to the statistic obtained from the sub county chairman, this dam served a population of over 7,000 people with over 1,000 herds of cattle.

The villages which depend on the dam are Kapokotum, Lalekan Central, Lalekan East, Akuna, Obem, pa Luwala, Tegot Kalabong, Alwongo chua all in Kiteny parish meanwhile  others villages include  Ladotonen central, Ladotonen City, Ladotonen East, Otome, Ladotonen west, Awinyo, and Lamogi all are in Ladotone parish.

Tadeo Opira the Chairman Kiteny Parish said the children are drowning in the water because their old fetching site was reshaped during rehabilitation which was abandoned before its completion thus the resident does not know how deep the water basin is!

“We are now worried because this dam is claiming the lives of our people and road accidents have become rampant especially near this dam,” Opira noted.

Residents neighbouring the dam have resorted to deterring children from accessing it on allegations of its demonic hunt for human blood.

Willy Omunga Picho the Kitgum District Water Office confirmed that the Kiteny sub county has reported the case of the water burst at Lalekan dam. He however said that the district is incapacitated to act urgently due to financial constraint.

He pledged to the locals that the district will ensure the challenge is solved

Patrick Ongom Jembi the personal assistant to minister Oryem Okello refuted the allegation laid against minister abandoning the project after losing NRM primary citing that minister has lot of engagement,

“Minister will complete the initiative because he has shown his willingness by opening the water containment basin” Ongom convinced.

He further explained that the minister has the plan to turn this dam in to modern one with structure like drinking point for both the large and small animals, bathing site for the locals, water harvester tank that will contain clean purified drinking water and fish ponds

Ongom however did not disclose the total amount of the money injected in this community project and when exactly will work resume for completion.

William Komakech the Kitgum District Resident District commissioner advised the local community to take the responsibility of monitoring the children to reduce on the death

He however cautioned some critique against cheap politic citing that it may deter many well-wishers from helping the community because instead of appreciating whatever little someone has helped you with instead you are rewarding them with a bad curse.

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