Unresolved: Delayed payments for census enumerators amidst missing tablets

Unresolved: Delayed payments for census enumerators amidst missing tablets
Dr. Chris Mukiza , the Executive Director, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS)

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The recently conducted National Housing and Population Census in May 2024 appeared to operate smoothly, boasting an impressive 99 per cent citizen count, according to Dr. Chris Mukiza, Executive Director of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics and Census Commissioner.

However, behind this apparent success lay a multitude of challenges and obstacles faced by enumerators striving to achieve this high percentage.

The census, beyond its counting function, provided significant employment opportunities, particularly for the country’s youthful population. Amid a large pool of applicants, only a select few secured positions, enticed by promises of daily allowances and a final Shs 500,000 payment upon completion of the census.

While many enumerators received their due compensation, those working in Nakawa Division encountered a different fate. Their hard-earned Shs 500,000 remains elusive, entangled in the mystery of two missing iPads.

Picture this: amidst the chaotic streets and busy households, enumerators balanced their responsibilities with the constant threat of equipment theft. In a surprising turn of events, some enumerators chose to abscond with the tablets.

'You’ll be arrested' - UBOS warns enumerators against theft of census tablets
Enumerators shall be arrested for refusing to hand over the census tablets and it’s accessories to UBOS.

According to a reliable source, one enumerator even boldly declared their refusal to return the census tablet until their payment was fully processed.

It’s a standoff, with an official at UBOS saying, “We will not pay until you return the two missing iPads.”

Also Read: ‘You’ll be arrested’ – UBOS warns enumerators against theft of census tablets

Shakirah, employed as an enumerator, offers insight into the prevailing tension, using a pseudonym to safeguard anonymity due to concerns about potential reprisals: “I know the guy who took one of the iPads, but he has refused to return it because he fears UBOS might not pay us. You know how Ugandan things be.”

Her frustration is palpable, reflecting the simmering mistrust beneath the surface. She adds: “We were told we would be paid after we returned the materials given to us for the enumeration; the tablet, power bank, and USB.”

The disappearance of the tablets has overshadowed the otherwise successful census, akin to a cloud blocking the sun.

The outcome remains uncertain as enumerators and officials are locked in a standoff, each side maintaining their stance.

The absence of the tablets symbolizes the deeper challenges and complexities underlying the census data.