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Energy Ministry on spot as MPs probe UGX2trillion fraudulent sale of rocks at Isimba, Karuma

Chairperson of Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Nandala Mafabi (Budadri West MP) tasked the officials from the Ministry of Energy to explain how rocks to a tune of UGX 2 trillion were mysteriously given away to Chinese contractors of Isimba and Karuma dams. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are probing circumstances under which rocks amounting to about UGX 2 trillion were mysteriously given away to Chinese contractors of Isimba and Karuma dams without factoring the cost of the raw materials.

The matter came to light when the MPs interfaced with officials from the Ministry of Energy who had been summoned to answer to queries raised in the 2016/2017 audit report.

The Committee learnt that the contract signed between the Ministry of Energy and the two contractors did not value the rock found on the site of these projects, a move some MPs argue was deliberately done by some Ministry officials to benefit from the rocks.

China-based Sinohydro Corporation Ltd and China Water & Electricity Corporation (CWE) undertook works for the construction of Karuma and Isimba dam respectively and the contract with the two contractors omitted the UGX 2 trillion meant for the purchase of the rock found at the site for construction of these dams.

Appearing before PAC, the project manager Abdon Atwine said that the signed contract was only allowing the contractor to pay for materials outside the site, indicating that the rock, especially at Isimba.

The revelation raised questions from MPs who questioned why the Ministry offered the rock free of charge to the contractor yet the Bill Of Quantity requires billing items like sand, cement, water, rock among others.

PAC Chairperson, Nandala Mafabi, “In any construction, one of the main components is stone and 80% construction in dams is stone and steel. In the case of Karuma and Isimba, there were rocks which were both Government of Uganda property. This meant that if you are going to do costing, the contractors never bought rock from anywhere, that means the money meant for rock should have been paid to the consolidated fund and because it wasn’t paid, there must be some people, which we are yet to establish, who must have eaten a rock in Government.”

The MPs wondered why the contractors of Isimba and Karuma dams were exempted from paying for the rocks at the site when Tom Kazibwe, former MP (Ntenjeru South) and others went to court asking for compensation accusing road contractors of encroaching on their rocks.

Isimba dam power project. (FILE PHOTO)

“By the way, there are those who have taken government to court and I think they have got even the ruling that they should have been paid about UGX390Bn for their rock, now what about us who have the biggest rock as Government of Uganda, we are talking about UGX2Trn. As a committee, we need to know who took the rock of the people of Uganda. We have information that part of the rock which was excavated by the contractor was sold on both sides of Karuma and Isimba to road contractors, so we are talking of about UGX2Trn,” said Mafabi.

The Committee tasked Prisca Bonabantu, Under Secretary Ministry of Energy to explain this incident within two weeks as the committee investigates the matter and also ordered Robert Kasande, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy to avail the committee with all contract documents and names of persons involved in this contract to establish who could have taken this money by not valuing the rock for these projects yet contractors could have paid for it.

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