Inflated rent of Health Research Commission in Burundi raises eyebrows

The East African Health and Research Commission's building in Burundi , Bujumbura. PHOTO| Zaid Mkangwa.

The East African Legislative Assembly released a report this Wednesday indicating the oversight activity that was carried out by the accounts committee that has raised eyebrows on the inflated amount of money to rent the commission’s Head Quarters in Bujumbura.

According to the report, the East African Health and Research Commission rent a building in Bujumbura (Kigobe) $4500 per month.

“I myself stay on the same neighborhood but I wasn’t aware that that’s the amount which is paid by the commission to rent that building,” said the EALA speaker Joseph Ntakirumtimana.

During a sitting in Arusha, Tanzania the regional law makers said that the regional Health Research Commission needed to be relocated to avoid the misuse of the community’s funds as the commission is still under staffed.

“Having only 3 staffs in the commission and yet the rent is that high there is need for the community to relocate those three staffs and save the money to build the permanent Head Quarters,” said Kenya law maker David Sankok.

“We are all surpsied with that rent for only few staffs …I think we shouldn’t bring staff in Arusha but to rather look for a much reasonable price in Bujumbura,” said Olivier Nkurunziza an EALA member from Burundi.

The East African Health Commission (EAHRC) is an Institution of the East African Community (EAC) that was established by the EAC Heads of State in June, 2007.

The EAHRC is an organ of the Community that is charged with the duty of advising the Council upon all matters of health and health- related research. It is the pillar for health knowledge generation, health technological development, health policy formulation and practice. It is the principal advisory institution to the EAC on Health Research and development.

“The proposal was if that money could be saved after two years we will have over 108,000 that will help build permanent Headquarters…it is better for Burundi and it will be sensible in that manner,” said the Ugandan law maker Mary Mugyenyi.

The overall objective of the Commission is to promote, facilitate and coordinate the conduct and application of health research for the improvement of health and for the wellbeing of the people of East Africa.

According to the approved organisational structure of EAHRC, there are 34 established positions. However, it was revealed that that there are 6 positions on contractual basis while approved staff establishment of EAHRC has 34 established positions.

According to the Regional Assembly, out of the 34 established positions, it was revealed that there were only 6 filled positions with staff on contractual basis while the other 28 positions are vacant.

In 2016, as per Article 2(1) of the Headquarters Agreement between the Government of Burundi and the EAC, the Government of Burundi donated land to the EAHRC to build the permanent EAHRC HQ. The land is located at Kizingwe-Bihara, Bujumbura with a total acreage of 6(six) hectares (2 ha 4a 95Ca 97%). This came against the back drop of the fact that EAHRC HQ is currently in renting office premises at Quartier Kigobe, Avenue des Etats Unis, No:71 where it is paying an exorbitantly monthly expense of $4500 per month.

The area was allocated to organisations by the Government of Burundi to various international and Government organisations to construct offices. So far, no organisations have constructed or started construction works.


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