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Works officials grilled over botched sh20b Motorcare deal

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th December 2009 03:00 AM

PARLIAMENT yesterday asked the Criminal Investigations Department to investigate the controversial CHOGM cars, which cost almost sh10b.

PARLIAMENT yesterday asked the Criminal Investigations Department to investigate the controversial CHOGM cars, which cost almost sh10b.

By Cyprian Musoke

PARLIAMENT yesterday asked the Criminal Investigations Department to investigate the controversial CHOGM cars, which cost almost sh10b.

Appearing before the public accounts committee, officials from the works ministry, led by permanent secretary Charles Muganzi, were quizzed about the botched procurement process of the cars.

Documents before the committee showed that on September 16, 2007, three Government representatives travelled to the BMW factory in Germany to inspect the vehicles.

However, upon arrival, they were told that the vehicles were already en route to Uganda. The Government thus wasted sh14.6m in air tickets and allowances.

“How did the supplier make invitations, hotel bookings and an itinerary well knowing that the vehicles were already on their way?” committee chairman Nandala Mafabi asked.
Muganzi said when the team came back and wrote a report, he rejected it because they had not seen the cars.

The chief mechanical engineer, George Okurut, admitted that they were only shown a car similar to the ones they had ordered but were not given the production details, and were only told that the information would be contained in the airway bills.

“That surprised us because we travelled with two officials from the supplier. They should have told this to us before we left,” Okurut said.
When they asked to be taken to the place where the cars were being loaded, the suppliers refused, saying since the cars were for use by VIPs they would pose a security threat.

Okurut said when they returned, the cars they were told had been airlifted had not yet arrived. Some of the vehicles, he confessed, were not manufactured in Germany, but in Austria.

The first batch of 17 cars arrived in Uganda on September 19, 2007, four days after the purported departure, according to the Auditor General’s report.

The last batch arrived in the middle of October, one month after the purported departure. Normally, air freight from Europe to Entebbe takes one day.

The MPs also queried why, if the deal was won by Motorcare, some acknowledgments were from Intercar and others from Europcar.

“To deal with three companies on the same contract is wrong. In case of breaches, who would pay?” asked Oduman Okello (FDC).

“It also baffled us so we sought advice from the Attorney General. He said since there were powers of attorney signed, with a stamp and seal of Motorcare, we should go ahead,” Muganzi replied.

Muganzi admitted that he was not supposed to authorise payments before getting an inspection report. However, he said, he was forced to, given that there were a few days left to the summit and the suppliers were refusing to release the cars before payment.

The MPs also queried the real place of manufacture of the cars given confusing data on the airway bills. Aeroport International de Vatry in Paris, France, was stated as the airport of departure although Denmark was stated as the country of departure. The airway bills were issued by a company called Avient Aviation based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“The intention of the whole deal was to defraud the country because there was no value for money,” said Mathias Nsubuga (DP).

Works officials grilled over botched sh20b Motorcare deal

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