Uganda railway bosses to refund locomotives cash.

Uganda railway bosses to refund locomotives cash.

Uganda Railway Corporation Locomotives (Photo Courtesy of URC)

President Museveni has directed officials from Uganda railway Corporation (URC) to refund UGX 48 billion ($12.8 million) meant for procuring four railway locomotives. SecretsKnown has established in a letter dated 3rd October 2022, that the president also ordered the prosecution of the officials involved in the procurement process of the used locomotives as well as officials that participated in the payment of UGX 1.2 billion ($321,404) to a law firm representing URC.

The Committee on Commission, State Authorities and Statutory Enterprises (COSASE), last year in November, brought attention to the corruption in the Uganda Railway Corporation. COSASE investigated the purchase of four Uganda Railway Corporation locomotives and allegations of public land sale. The COSASE report revealed that the Uganda Railway Corporation had procured eight-year-old locomotives at UGX 48 billion, an amount much higher than the UGX 36 billion ($9.6 million) for six-year-old locomotives recommended by URC’s select committee.  

It was established that the locomotives which were procured were not only two years older than what was recommended age, but way more expensive and also incompatible with Uganda’s railway system. 

State minister of Works and Transport, Hon. Byamukama Fred while addressing the press in Kampala castigated officials for fluctuating the prices of the locomotives regardless of their incompatibility. SecretsKnown wishes to note that this scandal is only a tip of the iceberg of the existential political and syndicated corruption that has engulfed almost all institutions of government many of which are non-functional and inept to deliver on their mandate due to systemic and political patronage.  

A report by the Inspectorate of Government on the cost of corruption in Uganda established that Uganda loses at least UGX 20 trillion ($5.3 billion) to corruption conduits present in both private and public institutions every year. It is absurd to note that institutions such as the Inspectorate of government with the mandate to fight corruption have been rendered powerless due to this same patronage network and deep state embedded in leadership structures.

Still on corruption, Uganda scored 27 points out of 100 in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. This Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. Uganda’s government under the leadership of the National Resistance Movement has remained rhetorical in the fight against corruption without any political will or commitment whatsoever to fighting this monstrous vice.

SecretsKnown is aggravated by the wastage of tax payer’s money in activities organized by government such as the “Corruption walk” that have yielded no results. Such events are organized with the sole aim of photo moments for government officials. It is vividly clear that the current regime thrives on corruption and any effort to fight corruption is a fight against the government.   

Unfortunately, several scenarios in the public sector have taken precedent where big shots/government officials are fired for public theft but still walk away scot-free and freely continue to pursue other careers sometimes even joining active politics.

Most times by practice, the ruling regime ensures that these perpetrators involved in corruption scandals who are sometimes top shots in government are not tried in the Courts of law due to the patronage network. SecretsKnown however demands for the investigation and complete trials of URC’s suspected officials so that they are brought to book for theft of taxpayers money.

Even though the fight against corruption in the public sector is long overdue, SecretsKnown commends the president’s directives on disbanding the Uganda Railway Corporation Board and compelling the management to refund misused Uganda’s tax payers’ money. SecretsKnown also applauds the efforts by institutions such as Parliament under the Committee on Commission, State Authorities, and Statutory Enterprises (COSASE) for exposing the scandalous corruption in Government institutions.

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