By Chris Kiwawulo & Simon Masaba
Police on Tuesday grilled four top managers of two insurance companies over forged insurance bonds as latest investigations linked the Mukono road fraud to a second insurance firm.
Details have emerged that besides Statewide Insurance Company (SWICO), UAP insurance company could have also played a role in the forgery of the insurance bonds used to secure sh24.7b advance payment for the road works.
The 74km Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga road was a campaign pledge by President Yoweri Museveni ahead of the 1996 presidential polls.
The Police’s Special Investigations Division (SID) based in Kireka interrogated the insurance managers and recorded statements from each of them.
SID commandant Charles Kataratambi confirmed that the four recorded statements in connection with the forged insurance bonds, but declined to divulge details.
A contractor's signage for the Katosi -Nyenga road project upgrade.
Those interrogated include; SWICO’s managing director Joseph Kiwanuka and his general manager Hajati Mariam Mutalaga as well as UAP’s chief executive officer Zipporah Mungai and her assistant general manager operations, Paul Muhame. Four people have been arrested in connection with the scam.
When contacted, Kiwanuka said they reiterated their earlier position regarding the fraud. “We never changed anything. We stood by our original statements. We do not know the insurance bonds.”
Attempts to get a comment from UAP were futile as none of the interrogated officials was willing to respond.
Police sources said officials from the finance ministry and the Housing Finance Bank are expected to appear before the SID today (Thursday). Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) officials led by the acting executive director, Eng. Sebugga Kimeze, are expected on Friday.
Other UNRA officials to be interrogated on Friday include; the legal head Marvin Baryaruha, accountant Joe Semugooma and the project manager only identified as Olwa.
When New Vision visited the scene, however, construction works by a yet to be identified Chinese company were ongoing.
The main contractor, Eutaw Construction Company, sub-contracted the road works to the Chinese firm.
Meanwhile, the Inspectorate of government revealed that they are yet to launch investigations into the sh165b Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga road deal as well as circumstances under which the sh24b advance payment was released based on forged documents. The Finance ministry asked the IGG to probe the matter.
The inspectorate spokesperson Ali Munira told New Vision that, “there are many things happening about that project and investigations are broad. We are still reviewing the complaints [sent to them] to see which particular issue we shall look at.”
In a statement issued yesterday (see page 34), UNRA spokesperson Dan Kitakule Alinange admitted that the guarantees submitted by the US contractor Eutaw Construction Company upon which they relied to release the money were defective.
Alinange explained that UNRA’s Internal Audit carries out regular and random due diligence on a number of new projects.
This includes further verification of Bank and Insurance Guarantees submitted to UNRA in the financial year 2013/14.
“It was during this effort that it was noted that the guarantees submitted by Eutaw were indeed defective. UNRA immediately informed the contractor of this anomaly and requested them to submit replacement instruments to ensure that the advanced monies were secured at all times. The contractor has since submitted the required replacement guarantee or instrument which has been verified with the provider,” he explained.