Parliament Summons Hotel Owner Over Electricity Transformers
Parliament’s committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises has summoned the owner of Imperial Royale Hotel, Karim Hirji to give explanation on ownership of two transformers.
The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) wants Hirji to explain how government, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), purchased the transformers for his hotel Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala in 2010.
The transformers were reportedly given to the hotel ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which Uganda hosted in October 2010.
The Auditor General, in his report ended June 2015, raised a query regarding the expenditure amounting to Shs 264 million that was spent to purchase the transformers for the hotel, yet no reports indicated whether they were installed them or REA inspected them.
During the meeting between COSASE and the REA officials, led by Executive Director, Godfrey Turyahikayo on November 1, 2016, the committee was informed that efforts by the agency to inspect the transformers has been futile since they were installed.
Turyahikayo told the MPs that on about four occasions, his staff has been blocked from accessing the transformers by security personnel.
Abdu Katuntu, the committee chairman, then requested MPs Fred Turyamuhweza, Nathan Twesigye, Beatrice Anywar and Abraham Byandala to go with REA officials to speak to the hotel management to access the transformers.
The group, on arrival at the hotel, met the owner, Karim Hirji, who said he was traveling out of the country. When asked why REA officials were barred from accessing the transformers, Hirji explained that they were a gift given by the President as part of support to hotels that were hosting CHOGM guests.
However, the MPs tasked him to produce documents showing that the President had given the directive. Hirji promised to appear before the committee on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the committee also met the directors of Dott Services Construction Company regarding a petition they filed against Uganda National Roads Authority. In their petition presented to the committee, the directors of the company Reddy Prasad and Venugopal Rao stated that UNRA has placed their reputation on the line following accusations that they did shoddy construction works on a number of projects.
Key among them is the construction of Mbale-Soroti and Tororo-Mbale roads. The directors claimed that UNRA owes them close to Shs 30 billion shillings over delayed payment for construction of the roads.
However, the MPs were not convinced, stating that the petition did not clearly state the company’s prayers to Parliament in its quest to seek for help. The company was asked to write a more comprehensive petition and send it to the committee for scrutiny, pending another invitation to appear before the committee.