THREE officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) were briefly detained at Parliament yesterday for failing to produce documents relating to a sh500m transaction between the ministry and a private company, Huawei Technolog
Permanent secretary Dr. Pat Samanya, communications and broadcasting director Eng. Dr. Godfrey Kibuuka and national broadband and e-government project coordinator Mr. Simon Onyango were accused of lying about the repair works of the damaged optic fibre cables on the Kampala-Jinja, Kampala-Entebbe and Kampala-Bombo roads.
According to the ICT committee, chaired by Nathan Nabeta, the cables had over 62 cuts, which had to be repaired before the project could be handed over to the Government.
Led by minister Aggrey Awori, the officials said the Government owed Huawei over sh500m for the repairs.
According to Kibuka, the money was supposed to be paid by the works ministry, the National Water and Sewerage Corporation and by the contractor.
â€œAfter we identified the damages, we selected a committee which apportioned blame. We agreed that the contractor does the repairs, while we organise the concerned sectors to pay for the works,â€ Samanya told the MPs.
But MPs Edward Balidawa, Mariam Nalubega, David Bahati, Luis Opange and Ssebuliba Mutumba demanded the minutes of the meeting, bills of quantities and an agreement showing that Huawei accepted to do the repairs.
When Awori tried to defend the officers, Baliddawa tabled a letter of September 30, 2009 from Huawei, showing that the company had agreed to do the work for free.
The letter was addressed to the permanent secretary. Samanya denied knowledge of the letter but said he would check whether his office had received it.
Awori informed the members that Phase 1 of the project was completed and would be handed over on October 31. When he further informed the committee that the ministry had halted Phase II of the project, Baliddawa and Issa Otto pointed out that the project was still going on in defiance of Parliamentâ€™s directive to halt it.
â€œThese people should be detained. They are not telling us the truth. The Government has lost a lot of taxpayersâ€™ money on this project. They should stop telling us lies,â€ Gordon Ssematiko demanded.
Awori tried to block the detention but the members threatened to detain him too.
â€œWho, why? Read your Constitution properly,â€ Awori said as he put on his coat.
The officials were handed over to the Sergeant-at-Arms, who held them until some of the required documents were brought from the ministry.
Top ICT officials detained over lying