Railway Probe: Chebrot, Muganzi Face MPs Today

The State Minister for Transport, healing healing Steven Chebrot and the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works Charles Muganzi are expected to face the Parliamentary Special Committee investigating the alleged corruption in the awarding of the multi-billion-dollar contract for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway construction.

The duo was summoned by committee chairperson, Eng. Kafero Sekitoleko early this week to appear on Wednesday and explain their respective roles in alleged procurement illegalities.

Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in 2014 ordered an investigation into the much-anticipated infrastructural project following reports that its cost was recently 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).

According to sources in the select committee, the two shall appear separately before the committee due unknown reasons.

Muganzi allegedly wrote two separate letters to the secretary of treasury contradicting Byabagambi’s position on the deal.

Rose Whitaker, the former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has since testified to Parliament she only introduced CHECL and did not participate in the formation of Memorandums of Understanding between government and Chinese governments.

Meanwhile, the deputy Counsellor Political and Economic Affairs at the United States embassy in Kampala, Carla Benni has silently met the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee investigating the same controversial procurement of a Chinese firm, China Harbor Engineering Construction Ltd (CHEC) to build the standard gauge railway.

The closed meeting with Benni came a day after Whitaker appeared before the same committee.


In the motion moved before Parliament broke off for recess in October 2014, Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo, said that government had disregarded court orders prohibiting it from “entering into a contract regarding the eastern route of the SGR project in Uganda if the CCECC [China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation] is still interested in the same route.”

The Select Committee is probing the procurement process for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and examining the contract signed between government and the CHECL.

It is expected to advise on its economic and budgetary implications and affordability.

 Ease of doing business 

Museveni last year launched the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway-line at a ceremony witnessed by the regional visiting leaders Paul Kagame and Salva Kiir and representatives of the countries in the region.

The Standard Gauge Railway, which is part of the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects, starts from the Port of Mombasa through Nairobi in Kenya to Kampala.

The line that goes through Kenya to the Ugandan border was launched in October 2013 by President Uhuru Kenyatta who sourced for funds from China.

The railway line will also traverse the Tororo – Gulu to Nimule up to Juba route in South Sudan and also from Kampala to Kasese on to Mpondwe in Western Uganda on to Kigali and also from Pakwach to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border and again from Mpodwe to the DRC border.

Museveni said the Railway line will be constructed by the Uganda Defence People’s Forces (UPDF) Brigade and CHECL.

The modern high capacity, reliable, safe and affordable railway line will enable trains travel at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour and will reduce the number of days it takes to transport goods from Mombasa to Kampala to only 2 instead of the current 14 days.

Kadaga said the Committee will inquire into the circumstances that led to the termination of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Uganda and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for the rehabilitation or upgrading of the existing railway line from Malaba to Kampala; and inquire into the conduct and propriety of the government ministers and officials involved in the process.

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