Shell Uganda has been singled out as Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) fuel supplier that led to a loss of Shs 1.4 billion in a period of eight months at UNRA’s 22 countrywide substations.
Dennis Owor, then Internal Audit Manager (UNRA), while appearing before the commission of inquiry into the mismanagement, abuse of office and corrupt practices, said there was need to reconcile the invoices made by the supplier to the usage; but it was not being done by the user department before paying Shell.
It was discovered, that between July 2012 and April 2013, Shell Uganda had over-invoiced UNRA by Shs 1.4bn, an amount, the authority duly paid.
“The supplier over-stated the actual download and hence the amount taken by the station was not the amount on the supplier statement,” Owor told the commission.
“At the stations, to withdraw fuel we used to issue vouchers. These vouchers indicate indicate how much a vehicle or any person being given the orders to withdraw is supposed to take. Ideally, they have numbers.”
She continued: “So this is supposed to correspond to what appears on the invoice. For example if I withdraw 10 litres today on invoice no. for example X001 I would expect that same invoice number and the amount of fuel to rhyme with the invoice but in most cases they were not rhyming.”
While the investigation covered a short period of time, Owor says this had been happening since 2008 when the authority was formed and continued to happen after the investigation since no control measures were put in place.
Unlike most government agencies where a set limit of fuel is given, UNRA did not have any limit and did not carry out due diligence to ensure that the invoices were reconciled to the work station fuel consumption.
Owor says management blamed the failure to carry out due diligence to lack of time to reconcile a country wide consumption.
“My concern was that we paid for fuel without reconciling with the users. I felt that since this fuel was coming from the upcountry substations, ideally that petrol station should first of all verify that what we are paying for is accurate but these invoices came to us and there was not such reconciliation.”
“So I queried the fuel in form of writing on the voucher demanding for payment and it was referred back to management. Later on, of course it came back and the argument was that ‘there was no time for us to have a reconciliation of the whole country’ basing on the fact that the supplier had to be paid and they would stop the supplying,” Owor further said.
The five-member team commission was appointed by President Museveni on June 8, to investigate the alleged malpractices in UNRA and report to him in 90 days, and is headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.