GULU – The MTN Uganda-sponsored Acholi Heritage Bicycle Races were staged separately – over the weekend in the districts of Pader and Agago in a bid to highlight the plight of teenage pregnancies in the sub-region.
The Acholi chiefdom popularly known as Ker Kwaro Acholi has a high rate of teenage pregnancies – leading to limited access to education, poverty and poor livelihood of its population – according records.
On Sunday, the bicycle race in Pader district started from the town council where Emmanuel Eling emerged winner as Emmanuel Runagakene came second in the men’s category, which attracted 31 riders.
Margret Akidi won in the women category ahead of Immaculate Akello in the second position out of seven competitors as all cyclists walked home with MTN-branded jerseys.
Pader district’s Aruu County MP, Christopher Komakech – who presided at the competition as Chief Guest – lauded MTN and Ker Kwaro Acholi for organising the race whose aim is to help fight teenage pregnancies and early marriage in the chiefdom.
“Teenage pregnancy has become a big challenge in this chiefdom and I believe this is time that all of us take charge to change this trend for the betterment of our people,” he told the crowd.
Rwot of Pader chiefdom Orik Apwa appreciated MTN for the partnership with Ker Kwaro Acholi in organising the race at an appropriate time.
He appealed to parents to send their children to school since it’s one way of fighting teenage pregnancy and early marriage.
“My fellow parents let us all take our children to school so that we can end these teenage pregnancies and early marriages in our chiefdom. This will help improve standards of living for our people in future as well as help develop our area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the race in Agago district was staged in Patongo town council on Saturday with Richard Opio emerging champion as Michael Opio followed.
Jennifer Alimocan emerged winner in the women category ahead of Nighty Akello.
The top performers in both male and female categories in the two districts received cash prizes courtesy of MT Uganda, and will compete against their counterparts in the other six districts the grand finale slated for March 12.
MTN Uganda Northern Region Business Manager, Phillip Odoi appreciated the local leaders including the area members of parliament and the residents for turning up in large numbers to witness and participate in the race.
“I am indeed impressed with the high turn-up of residents for this bicycle race meant to help fight teenage pregnancy in this sub-region,” he said.
“I would request that each of us go and spread this gospel to those who have not been able to be with us and this issue of teenage pregnancies will reduce going forward.”