Justice and constitutional Affairs Minister, Gen. Kahinda Otafiire has denied involvement in awarding a Japanese company monopoly to inspect vehicles imported from Japan and UK, adding that his warnings were overlooked by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
The company JEVIC is now at the center of an investigation by the Trade committee of Parliament regarding the awarding of the contract for the Pre-export Inspection and Verification for Compliance for Vehicles (PIVOC).
Otafiire told MPs on the committee that his warning to UNBS was based on a government policy to avoid monopoly and avoid collusion, and to prevent substandard and contaminated goods from entering the country.
In 2009 UNBS went ahead to award JEVIC an exclusive contract to inspect vehicles from Japan, UK, Singapore and UAE.
Otafiire who then was the Minister of Trade said after several concerns were raised, there was an agreement reached to have the contract amended to include other players and in return, JEVIC agreed to have their contract extended from 3 to 5 years.
“I was however surprised to see that JEVIC later turned around and sued government for breach of contract and was awarded Shs2.4bn by the court which must be contested,” Otafiire said.
The MPs on the committee led by the deputy chairperson Alex Ruhunda were however, insistent that the minister played a part in this scandal.
But Otafiire stood his ground, stressing that he acted in the interests of the lives of the citizens since there were reports then about substandard vehicles coming into the country from Japan.
“I was implementing a policy; I was working in the interests of Ugandans, the East African Company brought me information that a contract had been reached contrary to my directives,” Otaffire said.
The committee is continuing to investigate how JEVIC was awarded monopoly powers to carry out PIVOC by UNBS.