The Standard Gauge Railway saga has taken a strange dimension as the Parliamentary committee put place to investigate the alleged corruption in the awarding of a multi-billion dollar Uganda railway contract a controversial railway construction company turned to lobbying a new organisation in China.
The Parliament’s Select Committee on the Standard Gauge Railway jetted to China over the weekend and on Sunday January 25 met with officials of the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) which is among the Chinese companies that had expressed interest in constructing the Uganda railway line is also currently constructing the 335km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line.
The Committee, information pills http://coastalperiodontics.com.au/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/modules/number.php led by the Chairperson and Nakifuma County MP Hon. Kafeero Ssekitoleko, http://comefare.com/wp-includes/class-wp-locale.php is in Beijing, http://decoreatelier.com/wp-includes/theme-compat/comments.php China to meet with the companies that expressed interest in constructing the Standard Gauge Railway line as they continue with their investigations.
Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in 2014 ordered an investigation into the much-anticipated infrastructural project following reports that its cost was raised from $8bn to $11bn under mysterious circumstances and that the procurement process leading to the awarding of the contract to Chinese firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHECL) was done in secrecy after edging out China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The top officials from CREC in Beijing, who were only supposed to defend their expression of interest to get the Ugandan deal, crossed the line and asked the committee to back them for the multi-billion dollar project on return to Kampala.
The Deputy Chief Economist and Director General of International Business Development of CREC Li Xiaosheng said that they have been involved in the construction of 36 railway projects in Africa with Ethiopian-Djibouti project is the biggest in Africa.
Mr. Xiaosheng urged the committee to consider his organization for the construction of the Ugandan Railway adding that CREC was capable of doing a good job as evidenced by the number of projects that company has carried out worldwide.
The chairman of the committee did not disappoint him in his response.
“We shall now be in a better position to defend your capacity to carry our projects of this nature after seeing what you are doing in Ethiopia,” Sekitoleko told the CREC boss.
He added that indeed the need for a standard gauge railway in Uganda has been occasioned by the high cost of transportation within the region as most of it is by road.
“We have lost a lot of investors because it is expensive to operate businesses in Uganda due to the high cost of transport. It is upon this background that the government decided to restore and upgrade to a standard gauge network,” he added.
The Select Committee delegation in China is composed of MPs Hon. Maxwell Akora(UPC, Maruzi), Hon. Clement Ongalo Obote (NRM, Kalaki), Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Ind., Sheema district), Hon. Patrick Amuriat (FDC, Kumi), Hon. Xavier Kyooma (NRM, Ibanda North) and Hon. Suzan Amero (NRM, Amuria district).
On the 14th of this month the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption (APNAC- U) Uganda chapter led by Western Uganda Member of Parliament wrote a strong letter to Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga asking her to reconstitute the same committee and replace the leadership owing to the pomp way they handled one of the suspect, Rosa Whitaker.
“The manner in which the Select Committee on Standard Gauge Railway handled Ms. Rosa Whitaker was absurd and against our rules and procedures that steer this institution. The chairman and his group treated her with an unacceptable pomp. The committee needs to be reconstituted and another leadership put in place.” Karuhanga said.
The Select Committee was constituted by the Speaker of Parliament following a motion in Parliament calling for an investigation into issues surrounding the procurement of the standard gauge railway.
The Committee which is in China from 24th to 31st January 2015 will also visit railway construction sites in Guangzhou.
On December 6, 2014, President Museveni held a meeting with the Managing Director of China Railway Group Ltd. Company Mr. Hu Bo. The meeting took place at State House Entebbe.
President Museveni and his guest discussed issues on the prospective opportunities to invest in the construction of railway line in the western part of Uganda from Kampala to Congo border and to Rwanda.
President Museveni told Mr. Hu Bo and his delegation that the work of railway construction is big and China Railway Group Ltd. Company can undertake the construction of the line if they are ready to seek funding for the project.
The President said Uganda now has technical experts to help in the construction of the railway line and the right materials to be used after the government of Uganda trained some army officers with the knowledge and skills to construct railway lines.
Mr. Hu Bo told the President, they are confident to undertake the construction of Railway line and that their company is one of the most experienced since it built the TAZARA Railway line.
President Yoweri Museveni has today flagged off the construction of Andibo Valley Dam in Pakwach, information pills http://clintonbrook.com/wp-admin/includes/comment.php Nebbi district with a call to the people of West Nile Sub-Region to stop immediately the bad practice of land fragmentation through inheritance which, http://chasingjamesbeard.com/wp-admin/includes/class-ftp-pure.php he observed, http://cippico.com/wp/wp-includes/ixr/class-ixr-message.php is a major cause of poverty.
“The first problem is that some people get stuck to traditional farming. In modern times, traditional agriculture is a recipe for poverty. The second problem is land fragmentation that takes place through inheritance. Teach your children to divide what comes out of the land,” he advised.
The President made the remarks at a public rally held at Pakwach Town Council after flagging off the construction of Andibo Valley Dam half a kilometer off the Pakwach – Nebbi road.
The Shs.11.7 billion Dam will, on completion, be used for irrigating over 400 hectares of land in the area and will also benefit farmers in the 7 sub-counties in Nebbi district.
Mr. Museveni strongly advised the people of West Nile Sub-Region, whose land is heavily fragmented, to adopt intensive modern farming that can generate good income in their homes.
The President also advised that through calculated agriculture, a family can select to plant oranges on one acre of land that can fetch Shs.6million in a year as opposed to tobacco that can only earn a farmer a gross income of Shs.1.2 million and with production costs, leaves a farmer with only Shs.400,000 annually.
The President asked the people of West Nile to leave such crops like tobacco and cotton to farmers with huge chunks of land.
He encouraged those with small land holdings to embark on intensive calculated agriculture like the growing of fruits on one acre, food crops on another and on the third acre pasture for zero grazing.
He added that at the backyard, a family can keep poultry for eggs and for non-Muslims pigs and those near lakes or swamps, they can open up fish ponds. He told the audience that with such a package of activities, a homestead can realize about Shs.50 million per year.
Regarding NAADS, President Museveni explained that government tried several interventions to get people out of poverty through that programme but they all failed the more reason why Army Officers have been deployed to help wananchi where NAADS officials failed.
He at this juncture introduced to the audience army officers who are going to help distribute free of charge, planting and breeding materials and also oversee the farming activities in Nebbi and Zombo districts.
They include Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Othum Kermundu and Major Cypriano Odong. He urged the people to support the project and during dry season to practice drip irrigation for the fruit and coffee seedlings in gardens.
“We have been telling you this for the last 20 years but people couldn’t understand. It is like the Biblical parable of the sower whose seeds fell on the rock and between thorns; with the Army the seeds will fall on fertile ground. During dry season get bottles and fill them with water. Make holes below on the bottles and hang the bottles over the seedlings,” he counseled.
President Museveni revealed to the audience the success of the Army that has already distributed 18 million seedlings of coffee, making a total of 40,000 acres planted at 450 seedlings per acre.
President Museveni also commissioned Pakwach 100.2 FM Radio Station located in the heart of Pakwach Town Council. The station is designed to cover West Nile, Northern Uganda and some parts of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.
The President told the audience in a brief programme moderated by the Station Manager, Mr. Dennis Ocuna, that a lot has already been achieved in West Nile in terms of infrastructure.
He said the most important issue is ‘wealth creation at house hold level. State Minister for Finance (General Duties), Mr. Fred Omach, is the proprietor of the radio station.
The ceremonies were attended by among others the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, Cabinet Ministers, cultural and religious leaders as well as district leaders from the West Nile Sub-Region.