Members of Parliament on the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) have directed a Chinese contractor to refund billions of shillings it received from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
The committee ordered Chinese-owned Chongqing International Construction (CICO) to pay back Shs 1.8 billion it was paid by UNRA as a fine slapped on the authority for delaying to issue the company with an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.
The certificate, a requisite assessment undertaken to assess environmental consequences of a project before projects, is issued by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
The company, in fining UNRA, faulted the authority for delaying to issue the EIA on time, which led to a four-month delay in upgrading to bitumen of the 138 billion-shilling of Vurra-Arua-Koboko-Oraba road.
However, MPs on the committee were shocked to learn from NEMA Executive Director, Dr. Tom Okurut that the EIA certificate was issued to Chongqing to access a stone quarry in Maracha district to extract road materials to construct the road.
Okurut revealed that under the NEMA Act, the EIA is issued within six months, stating that the request for the certificate was received on February 14, 2016 and issued on June 4, 2012.
The revelations angered legislators, including committee chairperson, Abdu Katuntu, vice chairperson, Anita Among and Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa, who directed the company refunds the money by Tuesday next week.
The MPs also faulted the Chinese company supervising contractor, Robert Gyesi, a Nigerian national with Comptran Engineering and Planning Associates, for ill advising UNRA to pay the fine, yet the laws were clear.
This is after Gyesi admitted to the committee that he was not aware of the laws.
The meeting was attended by current UNRA officials, led by Executive Director, Allen Kagina.