KAMPALA – The Executive Director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Allen Kagina has spoken out on the clash between the Authority and Ministry of Finance saying UNRA will only take over Kalangala ferry services after the contract is renegotiated.
While appearing before the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises on Tuesday, Ms. Kagina told MPs that UNRA stopped payment to the contractor of Kalangala Infrastructure Services after realizing the Authority was being forced to execute a contract it wasn’t party to.
Ms. Kagina said: “We would have been happy to manage this service if we had been a party to the negotiations. That was the premise on which we weren’t comfortable to continue making payments. We weren’t comfortable with the terms of this agreement especially when we saw that the amount to construct ferries.”
She said that despite several meetings held between UNRA, Ministry of Finance and Kalangala Infrastructure Services, the parties failed to agree prompting UNRA to seek guidance from the Attorney General and the Government lawyer concurred with UNRA.
“We aren’t running away if this contract is renegotiated, all parties are comfortable, we will run the ferries. We have over 11 ferries across the country one more will not break us. It became very difficult for us to continue paying without the advice of the Attorney General and he agreed with us that not being party and subsequently handed over the contract to Ministry of Finance,” said Kagina.
The bickering between these two entities was one of the queries raised in the 2015/2016 Auditor General report that noted that Shs28.183Bn had been paid by UNRA to KIS in the past 5years out of the 13year contract between KIS and Government.
The report also pointed out loopholes in the contract saying it was marred with lack of value for money.
The report noted that UNRA budgeted Shs10Bn for the full operation of its 9 ferries across the country. In contrast, UNRA remitted a total of Shs14,030,718,000 to KIS for operations of the 2 ferries between Luuka and Bukakata in Kalangala islands.
Auditor General, John Muwanga said: “I find this amount exorbitant as compared to the amount UNRA spends for the operations of its 9 ferries.”
When the auditors interviewed officials from UNRA Ferry master, they revealed that the cost of acquiring a similar ferry like the one operated by KIS in the market on estimated is around Shs14-18M.
The Authority further revealed that the payments made to KIS are too high to only cover purchase of more ferries.