Uganda Railway Workers’ Union has asked Parliament to investigate the alleged mismanagement of Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) by the current management.
The union made the appeal last week while meeting the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) chaired by Nakawa West MP, Joel Ssenyonyi.
The workers told the committee that URC procured four locomotives worth Sh48b that have been rendered useless because they are not suited for use on Uganda’s railway line.
“Around September 2021, four locomotives were acquired but they are still parked in the workshop because they are designed to run on a 90-pound railway line yet our railway line’s capacity is 80 pounds, and actually if you go to the North, the capacity is 50 pounds,” said James Oketch, President Uganda Railway Workers’ Union.
The union asked the committee to also inquire into allegations of loss of Sh400b meant to repair an upturned train.
Vincent Byamaro, the union’s secretary-general said that there is one locomotive that capsized on the way to Jinja where all the wheels got off the rails.
He alleged that the damage was assessed and the cost of the repair was Sh400b but it is alleged that money allocated for the cause was swindled.
He also told the committee that URC had lost several properties to private individuals such as land in Nalukolongo and Port Bell, Luzira.
“The Railway workshop in Nalukolongo initially occupied 40 acres of land but currently the workshop is left with less than 20 acres,” said Byamaro.
On November 3, 2021, Ssenyonyi’s led committee discovered that prime land belonging to URC was sold without following the right procedures and the money from the sales didn’t go to URC accounts.
PWD Representative, Joyce Okeny expressed concern that if they laid off staff without paying terminal benefits, they will be taken to court and will pay heavily.
MP Sheema North County, Naome Kibaaju questioned the contribution of URC to the people of Uganda, given its low staffing levels and the feud between management and staff.
Ssenyonyi promised to first engage the corporation’s Board to inquire into the allegations and assured the union workers of protection.