Government intervenes in UN weapons saga

Wednesday February 6 2019

Flatbed trucks loaded with UN vehicles an

Flatbed trucks loaded with UN vehicles and tanks at Uganda’s Vurra border point near the Democratic Republic of Congo. A cache of weapons and other cargo belonging to the UN have been held up at the border for more than a month due to unpaid transport and customs fees. 

By Stephen Kafeero & Isabel Knippel

Kampala- Government has asked the United Nations (UN) to urgently collect its weapons and cargo, which are stuck at the Uganda-DR Congo border in West Nile sub-region.

Containers of UN weapons and medical supplies, wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and landrovers remain at Vurra border point where they have been held for more than one month over unpaid transport and other charges.

On Monday evening, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Okello Oryem, summoned the concerned parties in the matter to a meeting at the ministry’s headquarters in Kampala.

In the meeting, sources say, Mr Oryem was briefed about the concerns of the transporters and a source said he committed to resolve the issues.

Mr Oryem consequently, raised the matter with the UN Mission in Kampala.

Yesterday, UN officials in Kampala held a meeting with the aggrieved transporters at their offices on Yusuf Lule Road in Nakasero. In the meeting, sources said, the transporters were informed of the UN position on the matter.

Pay demand
According to sources, in the meeting the transporters were told that UN did not owe them anything.

The UN told them it fully paid the main contractor Daher Technologies, a French industrial conglomerate, in August last year to transport the weapons and the other cargo to the final destination in Agadir, a city along Morocco’s southern Atlantic coast via the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

It was further revealed that Daher also fully paid the Congolese contractor, STE Groupe Dirco Ltd, based in Lubumbashi, Haut Katanga, to undertake the job.

They were further told that the money disappeared between STE Groupe Dirco Ltd and KTG Africa Limited, the Uganda-based company, which was subcontracted to transport the consignment. KTG Africa Limited contracted the transporters.

Efforts
“MONUSCO is fully aware of the situation. It is a routine within the mission for the rotation of the troops that the troops bring back their own equipment to their respective countries. MONUSCO is doing everything possible within their disposal to resolve the issue within the shortest time possible,” Ms Rosa Malango, the UN representative in Uganda, said yesterday.

The UPDF have expressed willingness to escort the trucks to the Ugandan border with Tanzania while the Uganda Revenue Authority says it is not demanding any customs dues for the UN cargo.

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