Chinese Companies Refund Compensation Monies
Four Chinese companies have refunded Shs 26 billion money meant for compensation under several Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) projects. The companies include Zhongmei Engineering, China Railway No 5 Group, Chongqing International Construction Company and China Railway 18th Group.
The money is part of Ugx 47 billion shillings advanced to the companies by UNRA to compensate individuals affected by project constructions however the companies are reported to have put the money in fixed accounts to accrue interest.
The Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) committee chairman, Abdu Katuntu told a news conference at Parliament on October 13, 2016 that the four companies complied with a directive issued by the committee on Tuesday October 11, 2016 to refund the monies meant to compensate Project Affected Persons (PAPs) affected by the construction of Acholibur-Musingo road; Olwiyo Gulu road; Musita-Lumino-Busia road and Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa road.
Katuntu revealed that only China Railways No. 3 Group is the only company yet to refund Ugx 9 billion shillings. “They don’t have enough money on their accounts here. So what we have instructed UNRA to do is to call on the guarantee. I am certain that by close of business, the bank should be able to pay the full amount. We have recovered.
According to documents tabled by the committee, Chongqing International Construction Corporation Shillings refunded Ugx 3.5 billion; Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited refunded Ugx 272.7 million; China Railway 18th Group Limited refunded Ugx 14 billion while China Railway Group No. 5 refunded Ugx 8.4 billion.
Katuntu asserted that the committee was not to try the contractors but rather recover taxpayers’ money which had been diverted by the companies. “Our role is to name and shame those that engage in fraud and recover the money. We are not a prosecuting agency but want to assure the Projects Affected Persons that soon they will receive their money,” Katuntu reassured.
Other members of the committee partly blamed UNRA for its lapses in ensuring authenticity and timeliness on the payments to the Project Affected Persons.
The committee also promised to recommend to Parliament to direct Govt to review the relationship between UNRA and contractors to avoid such mishaps in future.