By Andrew Irumba
Parliament: Horror shunned Uganda Parliament on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, when lawmakers learnt that over Shs 24Bn which was meant for construction of the bridge to link Kayunga and Kamuli districts had been swindled by top government officials.
The plenary debate on the Shs 24 billion bridge, was prompted by communication from the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, that she had been following the matter since March 2019 and now feared that the funds had been chewed off by mafias.
“By the way, at some stage Shs 24 billion had been chewed. I have been following up this matter and the money was eaten in the Ministry of Energy,” said Kadaga.
Kadaga said she had even furnished President Yoweri Museveni with names of individuals suspected to have swindled the monies.
“I even gave the President names of the eaters, I have been waiting for action since March but I have not seen it,” said Kadaga.
Ironically, although the completion date for the works on the bridge, a component of the Isimba Hydro Power Dam is for 2020, there are no signs that such works have commenced, a dilemma that has caused widespread speculation.
MPs, visibly bitter, rejected a plea from the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, to have the matter addressed by Cabinet.
“If there is evidence that money was stolen, what will Cabinet do?” asked Hon. Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality) adding that “We need the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to intervene so that those who are culpable are punished.”
Hon. Ssemujju Nganda, the Chief Opposition Whip, cognizant of the sorry state of the Mbulamuti Ferry that connects Kayunga to Kamuli districts, called for urgent action on bridge construction.
“My suggestion is that government should tell us when the bridge and the road will be fixed as Parliament considers a select committee to investigate the theft.”
The Minister for Works and Transport, Monica Azuba, explained that her ministry’s role only stopped at providing designs to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development which is responsible for funding the construction of the bridge.
In response to Hon. Basalirwa, the Speaker guided that Parliament would be required to file a formal complaint to the DPP and assured members that she would make a statement in regard to the bridge at the next sitting of the House. Other MPs advocated for a select committee of Parliament to investigate the matter.