When Allen Kagina was appointed the new chief executive of Uganda’s roads agency- the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA)- many knew it was a question of when, not if, heads were going to roll in the agency. In the past few years, UNRA has become one of the most discredited public institutions riddled with corruption, influence peddling, delivery of poor quality work, weak supervision of road works, all costing the Ugandan tax payers billions of shillings.
The most recent heart rending case was of the Mukono-Katosi road saga. In a well-choreographed act, a Ugandan based in the United States, in cahoot with Kampala based politicians peddle influence to award the Ushs161 billion road works contract to Eutaw Construction Company Inc., as legally registered company in the United States of America, but with no legal existence (or rather a forged existence) in Uganda. UNRA through a mix of outright corruption, influence peddling, compromised due diligence, insider back-stabbing, gave the contract to the fake company. A few months down the road, the parent company disowns the Ugandan entity, and declares they have not at any point opened a branch of a subsidiary in Uganda. That happening, after UNRA has disbursed money to the said Eutaw Construction Company Inc account in a bank in Kampala.
When Kagina took over the country’s tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in 2002, again she inherited a corrupt, inefficient and a badly defaced entity. She settled to work. And one of the immediate low hanging fruits to any restructuring is firing of those implicated in wrong and illicit acts. And that’s what happened in URA.
At the time many people were retrenched and the organization restructured. At the end of the day, URA that was born out of the purging and restructuring was better, more efficient, more credible and collected more taxes.
Ugandans for now keep their eyes peeled on UNRA. For the last several years, in spite of the fact that government injected trillions of shillings (millions of dollars) into the agency to do the country’s road, there was no work to show, only more scandal.
For now it has emerged that over 50 staff will not have their contracts renewed when they expire at the end of June. These include senior officers at the ranks of directors and managers.