By Agnes Nantambi & Juliet Waiswa
The Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) has lost one of its longest serving engineers.
Shillingi Mugisha has been serving as the director of Water Resources Management at the ministry in Entebbe. He succumbed to cancer of the liver after a long battle with the illness.
Shillingi, in his late 50s, passed away at St. Apollo Sagha Hospital New Delhi India where he had been flown for treatment.
He served in several capacities like Chairman at Regional Steering Committee- GWP Eastern Africa; Director at Directorate of Water Resources Management; Past Commissioner- Rural Water Supply and Sanitation at Directorate of Water Development- MWE- Uganda.
He studied at the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute/Maastricht School of Management, Loughborough University and Makerere University.
He joined MWE in 1981 after completing his civil engineering degree at Makerere University.
The director urban water and Sewerage services, Aaron Kabirizi, a longtime friend and associate, said that Shillingi developed serious signs of cancer in May this year.
He said Shillingi was treated in India and returned but got seriously ill then was taken back to India where he passed on Thursday morning.
“Shillingi has been more than a friend. He started working in the ministry when he left Makerere University in 1980, since then he has risen from post to post. I only replaced him in 2007 to become the Commissioner and he became the director,” Kabirizi told the New Vision at his Luzira offices.
What colleagues say about him
Kabirizi says that he has been one of the oldest engineers and staff at the ministry. “He is the one I replaced after he became the director and transferred to Entebbe, in 2007.” I will miss him as a friend and as a workmate.
“We have been like family. He helped me throughout my career; he is my mentor. He was open minded and a kind of person who wished others well,” Kabiriza said.
According to his latest whatsapp profile picture, Shillingi is survived by a widow and four children.
Emmex Turyatunga, a senior engineer in the Urban water and sewerage services department in charge of the Lake victoria water and sanitation project( LVWATSAN) described Shillingi as a very respectful boss who did not under look his juniors at work.
He said: “I once attended a meeting with him in Nairobi for LVWATSAN2 and when I stood up to talk everybody said I was young, but Shillingi said I was the right person to represent Uganda at that conference even though he was present.
“We shall miss him as our senior boss who has been our mentor,” Turyatunga said.
Benjamin Natumanya, a senior sociologist at the Ministry, said Shillingi was one of the most approachable people when it came to technical issues.
“By the time I joined the ministry, he was a Commissioner in rural water but he was so encouraging even to us who were not engineers; he was my mentor, a gentleman and a father to everyone at the ministry.”
Daisy Nakandi, the communications officer of the ministry, described Shillingi as a father who would not allow his children to go wrong.
“When I had just joined the ministry, I first feared to approach him until he called me and said young girl, my office is full of information but how come you’ve not approached it for any comment; this ministry is a home of engineers please feel free to approach us for anything. Since that time he became my friend even though he was based in Entebbe.