The mystery surrounding the construction of a bridge linking Kayunga and Kamuli and claims by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, that sh24b meant for the project had been stolen thickened on Friday after Government denied the claims.
The permanent secretary in the energy ministry, Robert Kasande, insisted that no money had been lost and that construction of the bridge was on course and would start any time.
“No money has been lost, we were even surprised that this case was debated in Parliament. We have prepared a statement about the matter and we will present it before Cabinet on Monday,” Kasande said.
He also noted that they would address a press conference on Tuesday next week to clear the air. On Tuesday, Kadaga told MPs that she submitted a report to President Yoweri Museveni in March, implicating top energy ministry officials in the embezzlement of sh24b that was earmarked for the construction of two bridges on Isimba dam linking Kayunga to Kamuli district.
The revelation caused an uproar in Parliament on Wednesday, with legislators calling for an immediate investigation by authorities concerned.
“By the way, at some stage, sh24b had been chewed, sh24b for that bridge had been eaten. Members, I have been waiting since March. I have not seen any action,” Kadaga said.
Officials implicated include top senior accounting officers, some of whom had left the ministry and two commissioners, who were reportedly in charge of supervision of the dam construction process. Others are four managers.
When we visited Bugumira village in Busoga region on Friday, there was hardly any activity on site even though the contractor had poured murram and a heap of stones. Joseph Malandi, the LC3 of Kisozi sub-county, noted that the contractor, China Water, and Electrical Company Ltd, communicated to him that they were supposed to construct a road, but that they had not yet arrived at the site.
“They only delivered stones and murram, then vanished,” Malandi said.
He noted that the failure to construct the bridge had inconvenienced residents. They are forced to go to Jinja to be able to access the nearby Nampanyi village in Busaana sub-county, which is in Buganda region.
“The contract for the construction of Isimba dam was supposed to build a bridge to connect Kamuli and Kayunga. I think the so-called mafias have taken the money because the dam was commissioned, but the bridge is not there. The energy ministry should explain why the bridge has not been constructed as per the plan,”Waluswaka said.
Kasande could not, however, explain why there had been delays in the construction of the bridge. Works minister Monica Ntege Azuba told the press that the funds earmarked for the bridge were under the energy and works ministries.
She noted that the money can only be released when the design is completed and that the contractor was meant to build the bridge and that the new design was being drawn. Sources in Uganda National Roads Authority said they were not the contracting parties and could not comment.
“Our hands are tied. We did not contract the contractor. This was purely an energy ministry project. We shall only get involved during supervision.”
The Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, noted that the matter is expected to be raised in a Cabinet meeting that will be chaired by President Museveni on Monday.