Legislators on the parliamentary committee of science, technology and innovation last week quizzed Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) officials to account for sh24b released for the construction of a vehicle assembly plant in Jinja.
KMC executive chairman Prof. Tickodri Togboa, chief executive officer Isaac Musasizi and director of operations Arthur Tumusiime appeared before the committee to account for the funds appropriated by Parliament in the 2018/2019 financial year. They were tasked with explaining why the project had failed to kick off despite the release of the money.
In 2014, Uganda Investment Authority allocated 160 acres of land to KMC in Kagogwa village, Kakira town council in Jinja district, for the construction of the plant. The committee chairperson, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga (Kigulu North), said Parliament appropriated sh24b for the first phase of the construction of the assembly plant through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in the 2018/19 financial year, and work was expected to start last year.
In the report of accountability to the committee, the MPs observed that some expenditures meant for the 2017/18 financial year had been included in 2018/19.
“Last month, we inspected the place; we were shocked to find the proposed site for the vehicle assembling plant covered in bush,” Kyakulaga said.
He also demanded that the officials table a memorandum of understanding signed between the business arm of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) and KMC for the construction of the Kiira vehicle plant.
“Can you explain why KMC gave sh15b to NEC to start the construction of the assembly plant?” Kyakulaga probed.
Bukomansimbi South MP Deogratius Kiyingi asked why KMC gave away its responsibility of supervising the construction to NEC.
“Failure to account for sh24b means the committee will have a tough time convincing the budget committee to appropriate more funds towards the project,“
Kiyingi observed The Busiro South MP, Peter Sematimba, said he was disappointed by the reports laid before the committee as they did not reflect value for money.
“I was surprised during the committee’s inspection that the proposed roads leading to the site had not been constructed,” he said.
In response, Musasizi said the project had been delayed by the bureaucracy during the procurement processes to get a building contractor. He said construction of the plant, expected to take three years, had commenced. Togboa assured the committee that the construction work would be completed as stipulated in the memorandum of understanding with NEC.
“KMC will ensure accountability for the funds allocated,” he said.
The Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, launched a roadmap for the construction of the KMC vehicle assembly plant in Jinja. Vehicle assembling was expected to start in 2018 with four product categories namely: sedans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), pick-ups and light, medium commercial buses and trucks.