Aged couple in Amuru loses UGX 1.6M to termites


Bicentina shows the damaged banknotes. Courtesy photo

Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | An elderly couple in Amuru district lost one million six hundred and fifteen thousand shillings after being damaged by termites. 75-year-old Bicentina Alal and her 80-year-old husband Tito Okema have been saving in a metal suitcase for over three years.

The couple live with their six grandchildren in the village of Kali-Kali in Rec Iceke parish in Layima subdistrict, about 50 kilometers from Gulu city center. They opened their money box this year only to find that the paper bills had been destroyed by termites.

The damaged banknotes have the denominations 20,000 (35), 50,000 (10), 10,000 (36) and 5,000. Some of the notes are corrupted beyond recognition. Alal told URN Tuesday that they saved their income from the sale of papyrus mats, dried cassava chips, grains, mixing sticks, poultry and pets. She said that every now and then they would pick up some of the money for their medication or for helping their children.

She stated that the money was in good condition until last month when they saw the metal case covered in mud. According to Alal, they were amazed when they opened the metal case hidden under their wooden bed, only to find that the money had been eaten by termites.

Her husband, Tito Okema, says that with no other option, they collected the damaged notes and are now storing them in a different metal tray in the hopes that someone will come to their aid.

Okema stated that they have neither bank accounts nor SIM cards, nor have they subscribed to the SACCOS village, where they can keep their savings safe. When asked why they don’t have a savings account or subscribe to a group, the couple said they don’t trust anyone with their money.

“It was about a million shillings plus, the money was to help me with illness and for the children. I can’t do anything now, because the money has already gone, if it can be changed, I would like to be supported if it works. I have no other job, I’ve been a farmer since I was a child, ”said Okema.

Cosmas Apuke, a son of the couple, was equally amazed on Tuesday when his parents revealed the damaged notes and showed URN. He noted that he has yet to find out from the Bank of Uganda whether they can replace the damaged banknotes, the serial numbers of which can be obtained from their archives.