By Simon Masaba & Chris Kiwawulo
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) governing board has suspended four senior staff, including the acting executive director, Eng. Ssebugga Kimeze, over the 74km Mukono-Katosi road fraud.
Others suspended include the director for planning, Eng. David Luyimbazi, Joe Ssemugooma, the director for finance and Marvin Baryaruha, the director for legal.
When contacted, the board chairperson, Angella Kiryabwire, declined to comment on the matter.
But when reached on phone, the UNRA spokesperson, Dan Alinange, said the body would issue a press release, but on contacting him again, his cellphone was off.
A fortnight ago, the board summoned senior UNRA staff to explain the issues surrounding the Mukono- Katosi road fraud, which is under investigation by Police, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).
The Police’s Special Investigations Division (SID) has since interrogated and recorded statements from several UNRA senior staff in connection to the road scam.
New Vision broke the story on how UNRA through the Housing Finance Bank paid sh24.7b without a bank guarantee to a ‘ghost’ firm.
The company claiming to be Eutaw Construction Company from the US won the sh165b road project, which President Yoweri Museveni launched on July 7.
Museveni pledged the road in 1996. Documents show that Richard Pratt and Tim McCoy were presented to UNRA as Eutaw directors.
Michael Oluey was presented as the company secretary, Baka Kasule as the consultant and Apolo Senkeeto as the country representative.
While MPs were touring the road last Thursday, another man identified as Michael Fiacco claimed to be the new Eutaw country representative.
Meanwhile, the International Police (Interpol) Uganda boss, Asan Kasingye, told New Vision that they were still awaiting a communication from the Washington Interpol offices regarding the true identities of the said persons, who claim to be Eutaw representatives.
This followed a request from the SID commandant, Charles Kataratambi, who contacted him over particulars of the persons who won the sh165b road project.
Kataratambi said they contacted Interpol because suspects in the fraud case were international people.
“We have failed to trace them here. Even Senkeeto, their said country representative has failed to produce them before us, yet we need them for interrogation as part of ongoing investigations,” he noted.
By Friday, Senkeeto, the man at the centre of the alleged forgery, was still at SID.
New Vision investigations have revealed that UNRA paid a sh24.7b advance to contractors, who claimed to be from Eutaw whereas they were not, and the money was released basing on forged documents.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Interpol have also joined the probe into the fraud. Based in Aberdeen Mississippi, the American Eutaw Construction Company said they contacted FBI after several people claimed to be their representatives and won the Mukono-Katosi road deal.
John Bond, the Eutaw Mississippi director of business development has vehemently denied knowing any of the persons claiming to be Eutaw representatives.
“We don’t have anything to do with any roads or individuals on the entire continent of Africa! Again this is not us and we do not know these people. We have informed the FBI and are working on out end to clear our name,” Bond said.