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Ministry official probed over sh58b Karamoja road project

By Simon Masaba

Added 8th February 2017 12:23 PM

According to detectives privy to the probe, the money was meant for the construction of special security roads in Karamoja

According to detectives privy to the probe, the money was meant for the construction of special security roads in Karamoja

Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) detectives have questioned a top Works Ministry official over suspected mismanagement of a sh58b special security road project in Karamoja region.

The investigations were reportedly ordered by President Yoweri Museveni, last year after receiving information of possible fraud in the project, according to sources.

The sources said there were reports that at least sh2.72b, meant for the project, was withdrawn by officials in the ministry fraudulently.

Last week, CID officers questioned and recorded a statement from the Works Ministry Commissioner Roads and Bridges, Eng. Robert Lwanga over his role in the project.

When contacted Lwanga, declined to comment on the matter.

"CID is investigating the matter and they are taking information.  I cannot divulge details of a matter under investigation" he said. 

Yesterday, CID efforts to grill the ministry principal accountant only identified as Wayira were futile, as he did not turn up at CID headquarters in Kibuli, a city suburb.

However, sources privy the investigations revealed that Wayira wrote to CID seeking an adjournment to next week.

New Vision efforts to seek comment from Wayira were futile as his known telephone number could not be reached. Police is questioning the officials over the suspected misappropriated funds (sh2.7b).

According to detectives privy to the probe, the money was meant for the construction of special security roads in Karamoja.

The roads are Looro-Lorengdwat (46km), Lorengdwart - Amudat Lorengchora (63km) and Ruba-Magos-Kalasarich-Lorecha (86km), which were tendered out to lots 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

Police said ministry officials withdrew sh2.72b from the Consolidation Fund with the purpose of upgrading the roads, but the money was instead embezzled.

In May last year, the CID outgoing head of the economic crimes department, William Kototyo, who was at the helm of the investigations wrote to works ministry requesting for accountability details and the account on which the money was deposited.

According to the source, Kototyo also requested the ministry to avail certified copies of documents of the companies that bid for the contracts.

The companies are Kasese Nail and Wood Industry Ltd, M/S Gulf Consultant Ltd and Eastern Builders and Engineers Ltd.

"Kototyo tasked the ministry to avail CID with the articles of association, memorandum of association, certificate of incorporation of each of the company and the directors of each company," a detective close to Kototyo told New Vision yesterday.

Kototyo who was retired last month from Police, could not be reached for comment as calls to his known mobile phone went unanswered.

The then Works Ministry permanent secretary Alex Okello confirmed a communication from the Police seeking some documents.

He however said the expenditure in question was done between 2009 and 2013, when he had not yet assumed office.

"There have been reports about the roads and the Police have been investigating. They (Police) have been handling it with the officers involved," Okello told New Vision during a telephone interview on Tuesday.

According to Okello, the expenditure was also queried by the Auditor General in his report of 2013/14.

"It is an old thing and those responsible are in touch with Police" he said.

Okello was replaced by the Bageya Waiswa at the Ministry in a recent reshuffle of permanent secretaries.

One of the documents from the Works Ministry availed to New Vision states that Eastern Builders and Engineers Ltd won the contract to upgrade the roads at sh23.1b.

The Police source revealed that the CID had also written to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) asking for verification of the companies.

A judicial commission of inquiry, headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, that investigated the mismanagement of funds at the Uganda National Roads Authority, recently established that about sh4trillion was lost in a period of seven years.

The commission recommended criminal investigations against 70 companies and individuals implicated in the probe. 

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