Following a committee report accentuating the shoddy workmanship in the construction of the newly commissioned Katuna Border Post, Parliament has instructed the Inspectorate of Government to carry out an investigation into the matter.
Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs conducted an oversight visit to the Katuna Border Post, between Uganda with Rwanda, to assess the economic and commercial diplomacy status.
Hon. Boaz Ninsiima, the committee chairperson, said they intended to assess the level of promotion of economic and commercial diplomacy at the border and facilitation of movement between the borders.
The committee observed that the construction of the one-stop border post building commenced in July 2014, with funds from the World Bank and the Government of Uganda.
Amugoli General Enterprises Limited which was awarded the contract, halted construction because of non-payment and the World Bank also pulled out due to breach of contract.
This, Hon. Ninsiima said, affected the smooth operation of business because work was halted and resumed in 2022.
Ninsiima noted that Eng. Ivan Eyatu, a Supervisor at Amugoli General Enterprises, revealed that the building intended to house different offices and amenities of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Immigration Control among others, was completed and had been handed over to URA.
“We were concerned to find the said building in a sorry state with cracks in the wall and a collapsing ceiling,” he said, adding that, “Eyatu insisted that the cracks were part of the building’s architectural design”.
In the report, it was pointed out that the one-stop border post had no lighting despite its 24-hour operation, lacked barrier gates and lacked necessary services like financial services, equipment and telecommunication services.
The committee noted that the road connecting Katuna and Gatuna especially on the Uganda side needed rehabilitation to protect the image of the country.
Kabale district Woman MP, Hon. Catherine Ndamira, said that as district leaders, they had opposed the utilisation of the Katuna Border Post because of its poor state and are afraid that it will collapse.
The committee also proposed that the Auditor General conducts a forensic audit into the structure and reports back to Parliament.
Furthermore, the committee conducted an oversight visit to Uganda’s Foreign Mission in Kinshasa, DR Congo and noted that the Mission needs to be funded for economic and financial diplomacy.
The report stated that the staff were underfunded to meet their living expenses among other things.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Taybewa, added that staff at the missions are constrained with having to raise families in some of the foreign countries which are expensive on meagre earnings.
“Staff in missions are given a flat allowance across the board regardless of the country they are which is unfair; their allowance of education fund of US$2,000 needs to be bumped,” he added.
He proposed that government works on setting up missions in important and lucrative cities around the world.
“California State does not have a Ugandan Mission, yet it has the fifth biggest economy in the world; we need to have a mission in place that can help us tap into the economic prosperity of this city and others like it,” he added
Hon. James Baba (NRM, Koboko County) said that the country should take the initiative to portray a better image of itself out there by rehabilitating all its missions to acceptable standard and properly remunerating the staff at missions.
“Our image is tarnished if all we can front poorly built or dilapidated missions and border post buildings so the government needs to turn this around,” he added.