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Daily Monitor | Uganda’s UGX 24 Billion Road Scam | Police question top UNRA officials

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Posted August 25, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Corruption ~ 4,468 views

     

Vehicles move on the Mukono- Katosi road which is under construction. Photo by Geoffrey Sseruyange

Vehicles move on the Mukono- Katosi road which is under construction. Photo by Geoffrey Sseruyange

KAMPALA- Police were by yesterday still holding one of the Uganda National Roads Authority top officials in connection with the advance payment of Shs24.7 billion to US firm Eutaw, that was contracted to construct the Shs165bn Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi road.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Division (SID) were still questioning UNRA accountant Wilberforce Senjako, who is helping with investigations into the payment to a company whose credibility is being questioned. Police last week questioned the head of finance, Mr Joe Semugooma and later released him on bond. Detectives had earlier Interrogated UNRA Executive Director, Eng Ssebugga Kimeze, and Eng David Luyimbazi, UNRA’s director of planning over their role in the matter.

No details yet

Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the interrogation but declined to divulge details of what they asked the officials saying that would jeopardise the investigations. “It is true we talked to them. Mr Semugooma and others were released on police bond. But since the case involves many people and we haven’t talked to many of others out there, it will not be wise for us to give you details of the case because evidence will be lost,” Mr Enanga said yesterday.

According to the police, officials from Housing Finance, the bank in which the Shs24.7b was paid, were also interrogated and allegedly submitted bank transactions of Eutaw. By yesterday, the detectives were still examining the acquired documents.

Earlier, officials from Statewide Insurance Company (SWICO) and UAP insurance company were interrogated over the issuance of bonds that were used to get the Shs24.7b. But UAP insurance claimed they discovered irregularities and cancelled the deal.

Police and the Inspector General of Government are investigating corruption allegations and whether the construction company that won the tender exists. Eutaw was paid Shs24.7b even before the UNRA officials carried out due diligence, which could have led to financial loss. The Finance ministry has since blocked the release of more money to the company after reports emerged that government could have signed the deal with a fictitious company purporting to represent Eutaw.

Earlier, the American company had written to government, disassociating itself from some individuals here claiming to be its representatives. Relatedly, the MPs on the Infrastructure committee heard that Eutaw wants to sub–contract another company to do the work. This, according to UNRA, is not unusual.

THE STANDOFF

Works minister Abraham Byandala, has been in the spotlight for disregarding public procurement procedures by vouching for the American company. Mr Byandala, however, has countered that this could not have stopped UNRA from carrying out due diligence on the company.

He faults his predecessor, Mr John Nasasira, and minister for the Presidency Frank Tumwebaze, for orchestrating a smear campaign against him. Both Mr Nasasira and Mr Tumwebaze have since dismissed the accusation, saying Mr Byandala is using them as a scapegoat for his woes.

abagala@ug.nationmedia.com

Source — Daily Monitor

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The Weekly Observer Editorial

The country has been left in some confusion as regards the upgrading of the Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga road.

First, the company that supposedly won the deal to build the 74-kilometre road is reported to have dissociated itself from the company in Uganda – with the same name – which signed the contract with the Uganda government. In the meantime, nearly Shs 25bn has already been paid out by the government to the contracted company.

Last week, MPs toured the road and found that some 13 kilometres had already been covered. This raises the question: which company is doing the Mukono-Katosi roads. Could it be that the Eutaw that signed the contract in Kampala only shares a name with the Eutaw in the United States? There are strong indications that the Uganda government has been taken for a ride.

But as the police tries to get to the root of the matter, the junior minister for Works, John Byabagambi, last week made a startling revelation; he suggested that as many as 50 per cent of the firms that bid for public contracts in this country were not genuine. Quoted in The Observer on Friday, Byabagambi said these companies were so crafty they could beat any amount of due diligence.

These are perilous times for a country whose president only recently renewed his commitment to fight corruption. Despite Byabagambi’s telling statistic, however, it is important that everything possible is done to ensure that these disingenuous firms do not find an ingenuous government bureaucracy. Instead, technocrats in government should develop some kind of sixth sense to beat the craftiness.

A good starting point is the guidelines recently issued by the secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi. As The Observer reported on Friday, Muhakanizi wants a three-phase system of due diligence involving accounting officers, financial institutions and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.

It is important these guidelines are followed and any breaches thereof followed by stringent sanctions. Obviously the crafty businessmen and women could find loopholes, but the public procurement system needs to ensure it remains one step ahead of those who want to steal from Ugandan taxpayers.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

3 Comments


  1.  
    Amooti

    Someone need to dig up the so called company representative’s (Senketo) criminal record when he was leaving in Maryland. This is easy to get given that it in public records. I would request Mr. Ronnie Mayanja to please do some journalistic investigative work for the readers to help expose the rotten corrupt system in Uganda. Thank you.




  2.  

    Doh! I was domain shopping at namecheap.com and went to type in the domain name: %BLOGURL% and guess who already had it? You did! lol j/k. I was about to purchase this domain name but realized it was taken so I thought I’d come check it out. Awesome blog!
    Online Fraud https://www.fraudswatch.com




  3.  
    james kusema

    thieving upgraded to organized crime and the parties concerned even refused to pass the witness protection bill which would accommodate whistleblowers but instead they are exempting themselves from paying taxes!!!!!!!!!!!!!uganda was may be cursed!!!!!!!!!!!!!





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