Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is under investigation over whether officials stuck to rules, and personally profited from buying iron sheeting intended for vulnerable people in Karamoja.
The now-dubbed ‘iron sheets scandal’ centres around the procurement of 100,000 iron sheets by the government in 2022 for distribution to reformed warriors in Karamoja, as part of a Community Empowerment Programme aimed at pacifying the sub-region.
Any procurement has to abide by the provisions of The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act (the PPDA Act).
However, a procurement audit into the purchase of thousands of iron sheets for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme is underway following fears officials at the OPM may have inflated the cost of the iron sheets and received payments for the sheets for themselves, according to local news site NTV.
Preliminary findings released by the PPDA have revealed that two companies – Roofings Rolling Mills Ltd and MM Integrated Steel Mills (U) Ltd – went through an initial bidding process (as is required by law), to be awarded the contract.
However, the price of Shs71, 000 per sheet quoted from MM Integrated Steel Mills is significantly higher than the average open market cost of Shs42,250.
Benson Turamye, executive director at the PPDA said: “We are looking forward to see whether this particular procurement followed the PPDA Act.”
He added: “We have been reviewing files, doing physical interviews on the relevant officials in the OPM and suppliers. We have not established the market price of the iron sheets purchased by the OPM but after the investigations we shall be able to tell.”
Although a final report into the findings of the investigation has not yet been published, a number of government ministers and officials have reportedly already admitted to irregularly benefiting from the iron sheets – including prime minister Robinah Nabbanja, first deputy prime minister Rebecca Kadaga, Karamoja Affairs minister, Goretti Kitutu, third deputy premier, Rukia Nakadama, finance minister, Matia Kasaija and the state minister for primary education, Moriku Kaducu.
Last month it was revealed that one official, Goretti Kitutu, had admitted to diverting 3,000 iron sheets intended for the underprivileged people in Karamoja.
Her mother, brother and nephew were found by security operatives to be allegedly selling OPM-branded iron sheets to residents of the Namisindwa district, in eastern Uganda.
This specific replacement consignment of sheets purchased by Among has been refused by officers of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), pending the inquiry.
Uganda’s director of public prosecutions has now asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to formally investigate the ministers implicated in the mismanagement of the iron sheets.
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