The former Administration Manager at Uganda National Roads Authority Patrick Muhumuza, has apologised for the mess in procurement and payments for fuel suppliers to whom government lost Shs 1.6bn.
Muhumuza admitted to the commission investigating alleged malpractices in UNRA, that from 2009 to early 2015, UNRA has been spending billions of shillings on fuel under illegal contracts between the authority and suppliers.
In an inquiry televised by NTV, the commission headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, discovered that some UNRA officials exhibited conflict of interest by opting for some fuel suppliers over others.
Qn: Why did you pay money to Vivo energy for fuel you didn’t use?
Muhumuza: I don’t know
Qn: Do you realise that as a supervisor, you failed in your duties?
Muhumuza: I do and I regret it.
On the other hand, the former Director of Finance, Joe Ssemugoona, who acted on behalf of the Accounting Officer, denied having operated in contravention of procurement laws, such as open bidding for fuel suppliers.
Hared too involved
For the last four years, Hared Petroleum Limited has been the only fuel supplier for Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), despite not having enough fuelling stations countrywide to cater for the authority’s demands.
The commission has received evidence indicating that Hared had allies in the Authority that went forward to frustrate other fuel companies so as to have it gain monopoly.
When UNRA started operations, three fuel companies were contacted to supply of fuel.
These include: Shell Uganda now Vivo Energy, Total and Hared.
According to Ssemugoona, the three companies had been inherited from the Ministry of Works and it is upon that background that he wrote to them seeking their services.
Justice Julia Sebutinde wants these officials punished and ordered to refund the stolen money,
“My colleague, Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, you are doing a good job. I am so proud of you. Just grill those thugs for me,” said Justice Sebutinde, a judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
She added: “Some of us have been made to believe that we are a poor country, driving in potholes but instead the money meant for the road sector is being stolen by a few individuals. Those found guilty must be punished as an example to other thieves.”