The growth of Bukedi sub-region
By Independence in 1962, Bukedi sub-region was known as Bukedi district, headquartered in Tororo ...
By George Bita
Although it currently comprises six districts stretching from the shores of Lake Victoria to the southern shoreline of Lake Kyoga, Bukedi sub-region seems to have been much larger in the past. Located in the eastern part of Uganda, the area includes Tororo, Busia, Budaka, Kibuku, Butaleja and Pallisa. In apparent respect to the age-old entity, some establishments, such as Church of Uganda still maintain one leader or bishop to oversee the area of an estimated 2.5 million people.
Origins of Bukedi
According to The Uganda Journal Vol. 19, No.1 of March 1955, Capt. Kirk Patrick in 1898 stated that the northern, eastern and southeastern shores of Lake Kyoga were inhabited by Wakedi. The nickname Wakedi reportedly coined for the half-dressed locals putting up resistance towards the colonising forces of the time.
The journal further indicates that when John Speke reached Uganda in 1862, the name Kidi was known throughout the area. It applied to the not-yet subdued and unclad (not wearing clothes) tribesmen who lived on the east side of the River Nile opposite Bunyoro Kingdom. However, historical documents from Teso suggest the name comes from Ikidea, the people of the east (Kide), in reference to the locals of present-day Bukedea district.
Sir H. Johnston wrote in the Uganda Protectorate of 1900 indicating Bukedi as majorly Lango subregion. By 1908, intelligence reports dispatched by the British still included Teso and Lango under Bukedi. By Independence in 1962, Bukedi sub-region was known as Bukedi district, headquartered in Tororo and stretching to Busia and Pallisa. Tororo district became autonomous in 1980.
Infrastructure, Industry and trade
The Government has sank sh130b in the Tororo-Soroti road and another sh206b in the Musita-Busia road project. The Tirinyi highway through Budaka and Kibuku is a vital lifeline for the people of Bukedi. Herbert Kinobere, Kibuku MP says another sh304.2b has been earmarked to tarmac the Tirinyi- Pallisa-Kumi road.
This would alleviate the current transport hiccups by easing travel in the Pallisa and Kibuku districts. The Government is equally setting up one-stop terminals at the Malaba and Busia border crossing points to curb delays in goods clearance.
This is expected to increase efficiency, since two officials of each country's revenue authority would clear goods at one centre. "An officer from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and another from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will sit together to look at transit documents, clearance of goods and services," observes Veronica Babirye, vice-chairperson of the sectoral committee on East African Community affairs in the ninth Parliament.
Some industries in the area that employ locals, include Tororo Cement in Tororo town and Uganda Clays in Budaka district. Gold deposits, especially in Tiira parish of Busia district present an avenue for lucrative trade, as well as revenue collection for the local government.
Michael Wanyama, the LCI chief at Dabani A village in Busia ditrict, says illicit cross-border trade thrives at the Busia and Malaba border points. "Most commodities are cheaper on the Kenyan side, but become expensive here due to taxation. Many local traders prefer buying cheaply from smugglers in order to make significant profits," Wanyama says.
He decries the rampant practice of selling maize to Kenyans through irregular routes because of higher prices in Kenya. "Currently even if a kilogramme of maize grain is at sh800 in Uganda, it is almost at sh2,000 on the Kenyan side of the border making everyone struggle to sell off their products. Such a move ends up putting locals at risk of starvation," Wanyama warns.
The Government through the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme gave residents of Kibuku district 1,000 tonnes of CLICK HERE FOR MORE