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Relief Food Suppliers Fail Quality Test

This is according to a series of tests conducted by the COVID-19 task force after complaints raised by beneficiaries of the relief food, distributed in the first week. The food sent by the office of the Prime Minister, is targeting households whose livelihood was disrupted by the various measures instituted to control the spread of COVID-19.
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Some of the  food which was due to be distributed in parts of Kampala and Wakiso was substandard and not fit for human consumption.

This is according to a series of tests conducted by the COVID-19 task force after complaints raised by beneficiaries of the relief food, distributed in the first week. The food sent by the office of the Prime Minister is targeting households whose livelihood was disrupted by the various measures instituted to control the spread of COVID-19.

According to State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru, the taskforce requested Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS and National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO to test the food items before they are distributed to city dwellers.   

Barbra Katusiime, the Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards, says that most of the samples that have been taken to them did not meet  a number of standard tests including, but not limited to, moisture level and aflatoxin tests.    

Katusiime confirms that the cost of the items (flour and dry beans) had high levels of Aflatoxin, a poisonous cancer-causing compound and a common contaminant of foodstuffs, especially when stored in damp conditions.    

“Most of the items brought for testing by the government and independent suppliers have failed the test. We have therefore advised the government not to distribute it to people,” Katusiime adds. She, however, declined to avail the list of samples carried arguing that it was still being developed.   

Minister Ecweru has however pointed out that one of the largest suppliers in the names of Aponye Uganda Limited. Ecweru sights that they have turned away over 21 metric turns of beans from Aponye after finding out that their Food, mostly beans, had foreign materials.   

//Cue in; “Which organisation didn’t... 

Cue out…the quality.”//   

However, Apollo Nyegaheme of Aponye Uganda Limited dismissed the minister’s allegations saying that he has not received any reports indicating that his supplies have been refused.     

“I delivered the supplies and they offloaded them. they haven’t sent me any document from any laboratory indicating that my supplies are substandard,” Nyegamehe told Uganda Radio Network.     

The Minister for Kampala Metropolitan Affairs Betty Amongi further explains that among other reasons why the supply has been moving slowly is the fact that some of the suppliers had halted supply during the Easter weekend thus affecting the distribution partner.     

//Cue in: “this process has… 

Cue out…caused the delay.”//   

Amongi adds that investigations into the procurement scandal at the Office of the Prime Minister also slowed the purchase since the government had to change staff and accounting officers and also re-negotiating contracts.     

She further argues that the task force has decided to multiply suppliers and double distribution so that each division gets three distributing groups per day. With such interventions, Amongi is confident that in a space of one week they will have covered Kampala and rolled out to Wakiso and Mukono districts.     

The task force has also appointed ministers to oversee the distribution process in the five divisions of Kampala to help the distributing teams make quick political decisions. The ministers include Peter Ogwang, Jackson Kafuuzi, Benny Namugwanya, Rephael Magyezi, and Chris Balyomunsi.     

Available statistics indicate that since April 4, over 30,290 households and 94,242 individuals and 60 children homes have so far received the food items. The task force is also set to deliver supplies to all hospitals across the country.   

The government embarked on distribution of food and other essential items to 1.5 million people in Kampala and Wakiso districts as an intervention towards vulnerable communities, and families whose livelihood was affected by the ongoing lockdown. Each beneficiary receives three kilograms of beans, six kilograms of flour and a half kg of salt. Lactating mothers and the sick are given two kilograms of powdered milk and two kilograms of sugar.               

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