The Mayor of Mbarara municipality, Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi has calmed fears following strong criticism of the new designs at the Mbarara roundabout, giving assurance that the statue of the Ankole cow will be revamped.
Locals in Mbarara on Tuesday protested the latest facelift at the roundabout popularly known as ‘aha mahembe g’ente’ saying it undermines the heritage of Ankole which is best depicted by the monument of the long horned cow.
There are unverified reports within Mbarara town alleging that telecom company, Airtel paid huge sums of money to councilors and technocrats in the municipality to use the roundabout as advertisement centre for the telco’s products.
However, Airtel issued a statement on Tuesday refuting the claims that it was involved in the latest developments at the roundabout.
Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi confirmed on Tuesday evening that the monument known as ‘Rusiina’ is not going to be placed back but rather new changes are ongoing to install a new one.
“We have seen a big concern over the beautification of Mbarara, some are worried that the heritage of Ankole is under threat and it has been replaced by lughtung? metals”.
“We have plans and we have got a contractor who will build a new monument of the cow. And we have finalised the plans. The existing cow has a damaged horn and needs to be replaced,” said the Mayor.
“I want to give you hope that We are bring back the beautiful, new, young energetic Ankole cow which will be the symbol of culture of Ankole”.
He explained that regarding the ongoing works of the metalic designs which have become controversial, if the society rejects it, the scope of works will be changed.
“We are reacting to an incomplete process. As the district, we want to see if the works being done by the contractor are good and if society wants. The technical and physical planning team have to verify these works and if it doesn’t pass the test, we shall have that which suits societal needs,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
According to Kakyebezi, there has been numerous criticism towards the district authorities regarding the poor state in which the existing statue was. He therefore said that the ongoing developments at the roundabout were long overdue.
He says the beautification is being done by Abubakar Technical Services Ltd under USIMID funding phase I batch II to make Mbarara a city.
The Mayor appealed to the public to be patient and wait for the completion of the works by Abubakar Technical Services Ltd in order to comment with a comprehensive view of the beautification project.
Kakyebezi says the contractor is already aware about the outcry of the missing Ankole cow but is assured of producing a good work.
He also revealed that Mbarara municipality will soon receive more unconditional USMID funds to work on other projects.
“By the end of this month or early next month, we are going to receive additional funding under USMID and this money now has no condition. We can either work on roads, markets or construct abattoirs within the means of the municipality,” said Kakyebezi.
The Mbarara district chairperson, Rtd Capt JB Bamuturaki told SoftPower News that he knows about the project but was not involved in the construction processes.
“We had agreed that when constructing the cow, it should be the real Rusiina you are talking about now and we had come up with some names of Ankole cows with long horns. So, this one with the new designs and lightings, I might not comment much because I did not participate in its installation,” he said.
“Actually, I want to ask my colleagues here so that they can help interpret it [design] to me” explained the LC V chairman.
He supported the calls by locals in Mbarara as well as other Ugandans, for the installation of the real Ankole cow.
At the height of concerns online about the project, on Tuesday, the Mbarara municipality MP, Michael Tusiime asked that the new designs be taken down. He says resources have been mobilized to put up a new statue that befits the intention.
Among those who the MP has cited as contributors to restoring Rusiina is businessman Barnabas Taremwa.