The planned opening of Soroti University in Eastern Uganda hangs in balance following government failure to provide required funding to operationalize the university next financial year.
The envisaged Science and Technology University was supposed to have its pioneer class in August 2016 but it failed to admit students due to unfinished construction works.
The work stalled for more than two months after government's failure to clear arrears amounting to 8.5 billion Shillings to Complant Engineering and Trade Uganda Ltd, the company which was awarded the 18.6 billion Shillings contract. Initial works were expected to be complete by June 2016.
However, James Okello, the university's Academic Registrar told URN that the university's structures are still incomplete yet still, government has not provided the 14 billion Shillings needed to clear the contractor and acquire other facilities to enable them start teaching.
The facilities include a power transformer, water reservoir, sewerage network, road network and support services (Kitchen and Dining) among others.
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Okello told URN that government has only provided 1.6 billion Shillings in the 2017/2018 financial year budget implying that the contractor will still not be paid despite threats to abandon the construction site over nonpayment.
Okello adds that they need another 2 billion Shillings to recruit academic staff. He says that the current budgetary allocation can only cater for 15 academic staff and 40 non-teaching staff, yet the university needs 30 academic staff for the start.
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He says that only a supplementary budget can enable the university open in August 2017, adding that if this fails and the funds are provided in the next financial year, the university may open in February 2018.
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Alex Kakooza, the ministry of education permanent secretary says that Soroti University contractual money has been affected by poor releases from the finance ministry.
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The establishment of Soroti University was approved by the Parliament and was gazetted on July 16 2015. The university is supposed to train human resource in Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Engineering and Science Teacher Education.