Kampala- The Minister of Works and Transport, Ms Monica Azuba Ntege, has said senior ministry officials will be investigated for allegedly sharing part of the $2m Shs7b] paid by Societe Generale De Surveillance (SGS), a company that was contracted to do mandatory motor vehicle inspection, as a performance bond to government.
The money was allegedly returned to SGS a fortnight ago and shared amongst unnamed officials from the ministry.
According to the minister, the money was supposed to be returned to SGS at the end of the contract.
The minister made the revelation while responding to the questions raised by a group of concerned citizens led by Mr Andrew Karamagi, calling for the cancellation of the contract awarded to SGS, citing irregularities and lack of transparency.
“I have not yet received any evidence that some of my staff shared part of the $2m but I am going to investigate the matter,” Ms Azuba said in a telephone interview with Daily monitor.
Mr Karamagi while addressing the press on Monday, called upon government to thoroughly investigate whoever could have shared the money.
“We call upon government to thoroughly investigate some of the officials who took part in ‘eating’ this money. How can any sane person return $2m performance security to a contractor who has reneged on vital sections of the contract,” he wondered.
The group cited several anomalies pertaining to the irregular award of the contract and the integrity of the procurement process.
“Over the past four months, we have followed this matter closely and have established more damning information which reveals the impropriety of this mandatory vehicle inspection,” they said in statement.
Upon the initial award of this contract by the Ministry of Works and Transport to SGS in 2009, one of the companies that bid for the same ran to court to contest the award. The litigation resulted into the halting of the contract which was only given a go-ahead in 2015, six years later.
“Why weren’t the terms of the awarded contract renegotiated to reflect the change of circumstances such as the time-lag? We have also learnt that the Contracts Management Committee at Ministry of Works which should by now, have yielded responsibility to a Contracts Supervision Committee is still presiding over the execution of the contract. Why, up to this day, is there no supervising entity of the SGS Motor Vehicle Inspection Contract?” Mr Karamagi asked.
He questioned why there was no renegotiation of the terms of the contract following a six year court battle that had halted the contract.
“We cannot have a contract which stalled six years ago reissued without any renegotiations and adjustments to the terms of the contract. We therefore demand for the renegotiation of the contract and the current contract to be canceled,” he said.
The concerns raised by this group come days after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga directed the physical infrastructure committee to investigate the contract terms of SGS.
Ms Kadaga’s directive was prompted by legislators who questioned the validity of the contract given to SGS in 2015 to routinely inspect vehicles to get them out of poor mechanical conditions and also reduce accidents and vehicle emissions in the country.
The communications manager for SGS, Ms Susan Nava, refuted all the allegations raised.
“This lawyer Karamagi knows where to express his grievances. Our contract is already with the Ministry of Works. From our perspective, we cannot discuss a contract that was awarded to us by a ministry going by what an individual said during a press conference,” Ms Nava said.