MPs Demand Special Probe Into Standard Gauge Railway Deal

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Members of parliament are demanding for a probe into the controversy surrounding the planned construction of a Ugx 22 trillion Standard Gauge Railway line linking Mombasa to Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan.

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They specifically want the committee to investigate Eng. John Byabagambi, the state Minister for works and all officials involved in the procurement process of companies involved in the project.  The officers have been accused of influence peddling.

The controversy stems from the cancellation of a contract to upgrade the section from Malaba-Kampala and Bukasa port railway line to standard gauge.

The contract was first awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in 2012 and later to China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC).

Subsequently, Eng. Byabagambi signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CHEC, sealing the deal in a move protested by the company that lost the deal and prompted it to seek legal redress.

Already the High Court has overruled Byabagambi’s decision and advised the two parties to negotiate.

Uganda risks losing over Ugx 50Billion in legal costs for cancelling the agreement if China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) wins the court battle.

Now Bugweri County MP and Shadow Attorney General Abdul Katuntu observes that Byabagambi defied the July 23 High Court decision by signing the MOU with China Harbor.

However, Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo yesterday tabled a motion seeking Parliament’s intervention into the matter.  The motion seconded by Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba and Bugweri county MP Abdu Katuntu is seeking answers from Government on the matter.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga blamed Government for failing to address the country early enough on the matter, a mandate which was taken up by a private member yet the issues have been in the public domain.

But Works and Transport Minister Eng. Abraham Byandala denied there being a project of Ugx 22 trillion as well as an existing memorandum of Understanding with a MOU with CHEC. He instead states that Government had not started the procurement process.

3rd Deputy Premier and now Acting Leader of Government business Moses Ali asked Parliament to give Government a grace period of two weeks to study the matter and report back.  But Kadaga asked Government to prepare an official response within a week.

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