Meeting With The Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) – 1st Convening
Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on September 22nd, 2016
Officials from UNRA today, 22 September 2016, appeared before the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General Report for the Year June 2014.
The team from UNRA was led by its Executive Director, Allen Kagina. Former Executive Directors of the entity, Ssebbuga Kimeze and Peter Ssebanakita also attended the meeting since some of the queries arose at a time when they were the Executive Directors. The meeting was chaired by Committee Chairperson, Abdu Katuntu, Bugweri County, Member of Parliament.
UNRA officials gave a brief explanation surrounding the Katosi road construction saga where it is reported that about UGX 24bn was lost. The team explained that when UNRA entered into an agreement with Eutaw Construction Company UGX 24bn was given to the company as advance payment. However, when the contract failed, UNRA didn’t recover the money. The officials explained that an assessment report was carried out on the road which indicated that about UGX 6bn worthy project work had been done and they are in court pursuing those involved in the saga to refund the remaining UGX 18bn.
Although, the committee didn’t go further to pursue the query as the Chairperson guided that the matter is before court and it will be against the subjudice rule for the committee to consider the issue. It tasked the officials to adopt safeguards to avoid contractors presenting forged guarantees and security bonds.
The Auditor General also reported that UNRA has receivables which has been held in ABC Capital bank amounting to UGX 173.7m. Management of UNRA explained that this amount of money was fraudulently transferred to the bank by Travor Tumwine, an officer of UNRA and John Arinaitwe, who was an internee. These two conspired and opened up a bank account in ABC capital bank in the names of a fuel supplier who was supplying fuel to UNRA. Although a criminal file was opened, the officials were not arrested until recently when they were caught and aligned before court and case is scheduled for hearing.
The officials added that part of the money was withdrawn by the suspects and the remaining amount lying in the bank is UGX 45m. The committee directed the management to seek an order from court to direct ABC bank to refund all the money since it was part of the fraud.
The committee also learnt that despite Parliament appropriating for the institution UGX 2.198tn in FY2013/14, it received UGX 2.05tn, indicating a funding gap of UGX 173bn which affected the implementation of their activities.
The committee also directed UNRA officials at the headquarters to stop borrowing money from its stations. The Auditor General reported that the Headquarter borrowed money from the Kampala station worthy UGX 1bn for various activities from both cash drawings and land compensation funds. By the time of the audit, the headquarter had not refunded the borrowings form the station amounting to UGX 232m. Although the officials reported that this money was later on paid in 2015, The committee directed management to stop borrowing money from its stations as it affects the implementation of activities.
The committee also directed management to expedite the process of destroying tractor tyres which has been in store at the Mpigi UNRA station for the last 10 years. The committee noted that the unsuspecting public may end up buying these tyres which may cause accidents on the road. The officials agreed that they will work expeditiously with National Environmental Management Authority to dispose of the tyres.
Management was also directed to write to Uganda police Force to refund the 24 missing confiscated Bitumen drums from the UNRA station of Kasese. The Auditor General reported that 24 bitumen drums were confiscated by Chinese who were escorted by the police but they are nowhere to be seen. The officials explained that they wrote to the Standard Professional unit of Police to investigate the matter.
The officials also explained the anomalies surrounding the dismantling of the ferry at Laropi Landing site in Moyo. The ferry at Laropi is new and the old one was reassembled and taken to Rhino Camp to transport people from Arua to Gulu. However, it hasn’t yet started operating due to lack of the landing site. The Auditor General reported that there was no documentary evidence of dismantling of the Moyo ferry. Some of the parts of the old ferry were left in different parts, some box part where in Laropi, others in Arua and the engine was in Luwero.
The committee also learnt that two ferries are operating without insurance. These are Kyoga one and Kyoga two. The former has been in operation for the last three years uninsured. The committee noted that it is an unacceptable to have a ferry operating without insurance. Management agreed that insuring these two will be first tracked under emergency procurement.
UNRA management also informed the committee that as per the recent approved staff structure of 1,400 staff by the Board. They have filled only 950 positions remaining with a staff gap of 450 positions. They also added that some of the positions were not filled because they were internally advertised and didn’t attract applicants while some who attracted, the applicants didn’t meet the minimum requirements.
They further informed the committee that they have delegated the civil works and services procurement to Kampala Capital City Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority respectively. This was after they signed MoUs and agreed to pay the procurement departments of these bodies. This arrangement was approved by the UNRA Board and also the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority permission was sought and granted.
The officials also gave explanations regarding payment of a Consultant without a valid contract supervision of works along Atiak-Moyo- Afoji road. Although the contract price was UGX 826.8m and the period was 18 months, the actual work was completed in 32 months and the amount paid was UGX 1.6Bbn. This was almost 128% increment of the original price. The officials explained that sometimes the contractor implements the project slowly which affects the Consultant. The committee advised management to ensure that the contractor finishes work on the agreed time but also resolved to investigate the matter further.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting to Friday 23rd September 2016 at 9:30am