By Mary Asujo
Members of Parliament on the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources are investigating allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL).
While interfacing with the board members of UETCL on Thursday, 17 March 2022, the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Emmanuel Otaala stated that they are very concerned about the mismanagement of the company resulting from a divided board of directors.
“The media has painted a picture of fusion in roles between part of the board and management leading to misappropriation of resources, double payment of project affected persons and payment of people holding land titles in wetlands” he said adding that, “there are also board members who have stayed for over 20 years. These are issues we need to understand because it is scaring away investors.”
Dr Otaala demanded that UETCL provides the committee with a comprehensive report regarding the controversial payment of Shs28 billion to project affected persons on the Namanve-Luzira land for the construction of the 132KV transmission line.
There are also allegations that UETCL officials inflated the compensation figure and even compensated people on government owned land. Otaala said that the committee is also interested in investigating the Mutundwe-Entebbe compensation scheme.
The Deputy Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Emely Kugonza said that UETCL’s predicament is an issue of micromanagement by the board which he alleges of usurping the powers of management to the extent that no decision can be taken by the managing director without the authorization of the board.
“We have been told that in the recent times, the board sat 47 times doing work of management, there are issues of corruption and nepotism at UETCL. We are told every board member has brought in a relative at either a senior or junior managerial level. These are critical aspects that we need you to share with the committee,” Kugonza said.
Hon. Dickson Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) demanded that UETCL is thoroughly investigated and boundaries set to distinguish the roles of the board and management to cure the administrative friction saying that, “electricity is a big factor of production whose distribution should be well handled.”
State minister for Privatization, Hon. Evelyn Anite who led the delegation from UETCL pledged to resolve the impasse at the company including allegations of corruption and the rift within the board.
Apparently, there is a conflict between the chairperson of the board, Peter Ucanda and another board member, Richard Santo Apire which has divided the entire board. Anite told the committee that they have since reconciled the two parties.
She asked the committee to give the UETCL Board more time to provide a detailed report in response to all the allegations. UETCL is expected to return to the committee on 07 April 2022 with written submissions to all the concerns raised by the MPs.
UETCL is a limited company responsible for purchasing electricity and selling it to distribution companies on behalf of Government.
The Minister of Finance and State minister for Privatization are the shareholders with 51 per cent and 49 per cent shares respectively while the line Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is the vote controller and in charge of supervision.