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Disaster ministry probed over 'fake payments'

By Moses Mulondo

Added 11th August 2016 09:05 AM

The investigations are around two defunct excavators belonging to a private company.

Disaster ministry probed over 'fake payments'

Parliament is investigating the reports

The investigations are around two defunct excavators belonging to a private company.

KAMPALA - Parliament has asked the Auditor General to investigate reports that it has been for six years paying sh2m per day for two defunct/grounded earth movers (excavators) in Bududa which were used to extract the 2010 landslide victims.

If mathematics is applied, it means for the six years about sh4.3b has been paid for services of the defunct excavators.

The two excavators belong to a private company identified as M/s BCR General Ltd.  

The suspected scam was raised in the House by the Bukonzo County West MP Geoffrey Katusabe who sought explanation on why government has continued to pay services for the defunct equipment.

The minister for disaster preparedness said government had hired the equipment used in the excavation of the victims of the March 2010 Bududa at Nametsi village in Bulucheke Sub County.

"However, given the emergency nature of the intervention, funds were not readily available to effect payment to the provider of the equipment. Due to delays in payment for the services, the service provider sued government in 2012 for non-payment of the accumulated hire costs, failure to return the equipment and interest accrued," Onek explained.

The minister explained that after the Commercial Court advised the two parties to negotiate an out of court settlement and government accepted to compensate the company with sh5.4b.

"It is not true that government continues to pay any costs for the equipment. The service provider was fully compensated and the equipment reverted to government," Onek elaborated.

Manjiya County MP John Baptist Nambeshe said, "The equipment is defunct and has no value worth talking about. Money has been wasted on that and the people who were displaced by the landslides have not been helped.

Many of them went back to the area and their lives are in danger in case more landslides occur."

The Bududa woman MP Justine Khainza said: "I was shocked to see that government has continued to pay sh2m for the equipment which has not been working for six years."

Finance state minister, David Bahati said: "Since we have committed ourselves to zero tolerance against corruption, let the issue be sent to the Auditor General for investigations."

After Kilak South MP Gilbert Oulanya sought to know the owner of the company, the Buvuma County MP Robert Migadde identified the owner as Baguma Rusoke.

Dokolo woman MP Cecelia Ogwal said: "The statement the minister for disaster preparedness has presented is also a disaster. Is it therefore procedurally right for us to add more disaster to what is already a disaster? Let the minister withdraw his disastrous statement."

Responding to comments from the MPs, Hillary Onek said: "Definitely, this took place when I was not yet a minister for disaster preparedness. I agree with my colleague Bahati's proposal for a special audit because monies from government cannot just go without records."

Concluding the matter, the speaker Rebecca Kadaga referred it to the Auditor General to investigate.

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