Parliament Starts $8bn Standard Gauge Railway Probe – ChimpReports

Parliament Starts $8bn Standard Gauge Railway Probe

Kadaga has commissioned a probe into the railway project

The Speaker of Parliament, drug link Rebecca Kadaga, viagra has appointed an Independent legislator, try Hon. Eng. Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko (Nakifuma county), to chair a Parliament Select Committee to investigate issues surrounding the procurement process of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The move has since raised concerns that such a protracted investigation could delay the construction of the $8bn standard gauge railway line which is expected to boost lucrative regional trade and cut the cost of doing business in Uganda.

Parliament last week passed a motion calling for a Select Committee to investigate, among others, the actions of the Minister of State for Works and all other officials involved in the procurement of all companies involved in the project.

MPs argue the project’s 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 (CHEC) was done in secrecy after edging out China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The Speaker also named MPs Hon. Maxwell Akora (UPC, Maruzi), Hon. Clement Ongalo Obote (NRM, Kalaki), Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Ind., Sheema district), Hon. Eng. Patrick Amuriat (FDC, Kumi), Hon. Xavier Kyooma Akampurira (NRM, Ibanda North) and Hon. Suzan Amero (NRM, Amuria district) to serve on the Select 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 will probe into the procurement process for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway in Uganda; and examine the contract signed between government and the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), and advise on its economic and budgetary implications and affordability.

The Parliament’s decision is likely to set the stage for a fresh showdown between President Museveni who has been lobbying for funds for the railway project and MPs whom he accuses of frustrating government projects aimed at enhancing the country’s infrastructure and energy sectors.

Museveni in October 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 the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

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.

In the motion passed last week, Parliament urged government to respect the rule of law by complying with the orders of court in conformity with the Constitution so as not to hold the judiciary in contempt.

The Committee has been given two months and is expected to report back to Parliament on January 11, 2015.

Why Museveni favoured CHECL

Museveni on September 9, 2012 wrote to Works State Minister Abraham Byandala in support of CHECL which was seconded to him by the powerful American lobbyist Rosa Whitaker, a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa.

“Some time ago, our Black American compatriot, Ms Rosa Whitaker…brought to us a Chinese group known as the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHECL),” said Museveni in the letter, adding, “It is, therefore, wise that you deal with CHECL who came first and, according to confidential information, have not attempted to pay any bribes.”

This website has learnt that one of the reasons why Museveni preferred CHECL to CCECC was that it committed itself to develop capacity of UPDF Engineers in the construction and maintenance of Lake Victoria Port Infrastructure System and the Railway Infrastructure System.

CHECL also pledged to develop an Inland Port and a ship building facility at Bukasa not to mention a railway station.

Other related railway facilities would also be set up right from Kampala to Malaba and Bukasa Port and from Tororo to Pakwach before extending from Gulu to Nimule.

CHECL also promised to train UPDF Engineers and Technicians and remodel Tororo Barracks into a polytechnic centre thus cutting the cost of buying uniform and other attire from abroad.

With these benefits in sight, Museveni is said to have decided that CHECL takes the multi-billion deal.

But MP Winfred Niwagaba last week said Parliament “cannot accept this railway line project to continue because it is an illegality which will cost us (Uganda) more money than we can afford to pay back.”


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