Parliament’s Committee on Commissions Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) has directed that leases on Uganda Railway Corporation (URC) land be cancelled.
Presenting the report of the committee during the plenary on Wednesday April 13, 2022, COSASE Chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi said that over time, different district land boards in Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, Nwoya, and Uganda Land Commission have created illegal leases on URC land.
Ssenyonyi noted that several requests by URC to these land boards to cancel the said illegal leases have been futile and this has made it difficult for URC to recover its land.
He said that URC has written to the bodies and the letters have not been responded to, while some of them have been added as parties to litigation cases involving URC.
“AII illegal leases on URC land should be cancelled by the issuing authorities. The officers in the district land boards involved in issuing the illegal leases should be held responsible and URC should come up with clear mechanisms on how to lease its land so that the appropriate value can be ascertained,” he said.
On the newly procured locomotives, the committee found out that four locomotives were purchased in 2021 at Shs48bn but since arrival, they have been parked in the workshop with no work.
“The URC workers interfaced with the committee and revealed that the locomotives were imported without knowing that they were too long for the triangles and not able to turn,” Ssenyonyi’s report reads.
It also found out that there were irregularities in the procurement process of the locomotives with older locomotives purchased at higher costs and yet a lesser amount could have bought new ones.
“After carrying out a market survey, a URC select committee recommended that the company had to purchase locomotives which are six years old at Shs36bn. However, locomotives which were eight years old were procured at a cost of Shs48bn,” Ssenyonyi said.
The committee recommended that the Ministry of Works and Transport should take responsibility for failure to follow government policy on the procurement of equipment.
They also want the management of URC, that was involved in the procurement, held responsible for flouting procurement regulations and the unplanned costs incurred on modifications of railway triangles in Jinja and Tororo and the U-turn in Kampala.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Privatisation, Hon. Evelyn Anite, said that Shs69.52bn that is needed to pay Uganda Railways for the sale of Nsambya land has not been allocated in the budget for the next financial year due to competing priorities.
This followed reports from Uganda Railways indicating that since Government gave out the Nsambya land to investors, it was never paid.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Among, asked Government to plan and budget for the money since the budget process is ongoing.
MPs gave Government three months to table a treasury memorandum on the Uganda Railway operations.
A Treasury Memorandum is an action report by the minister or government detailing actions taken on recommendations of Parliament.