Parliament. Hundreds of government vehicles that need minor repairs are rotting away in public parking yards and private garages across the country even as legislators cautioned accounting officers against wastage of public resources.
The Auditor General (AG) noted in his latest report to Parliament that “grounded vehicles continue to deteriorate in their economic value due to depreciation arising from the long stay without maintenance.”
Ministry of Works had 105 vehicles grounded for more than four years in different locations. Out of these, 10 vehicles were found in private locations and some were even vandalised in unclear circumstances. Some vehicles had no tyres, were deflated and damaged yet others had gathered dust.
For instance, at Mbarara Regional Mechanical Workshop, three tractors belonging to Isingiro, Kisoro and Rukungiri districts have been in the garage for more than three years and their long stay in the garage could have hampered the work at the districts. Besides, the AG found that there was no proper explanation why the tractors were not repaired and taken back to their respective districts. Some parts of the tractors were found disjointed.
Public Accounts Committee vice chairperson Paul Mwiru on Monday asked accounting officers to carry out a board of survey and dispose of the vehicles or face disciplinary action.
“We have already issued instructions to the accounting officers but some are still adamant. We are losing money as a result of loss of value for these grounded vehicles. Some vehicles have even disappeared and other vandalised through unclear circumstances,” Mr Mwiru said.
Ministry of Works officials explained that the tractors have been in the garage for more than three years but this arose from Uganda Road Fund failure to fund the Regional Mechanical Workshops (RMWs).
It’s the same story for Kyambogo University. Ag found that several vehicles were abandoned at the University police station, security office and other parking lots, and had not been boarded off. The vehicles were in a bad state and were deteriorating in value. Examination of the Assets register revealed that the vehicles were recorded as those belonging to Kyambogo University though most of them had Ministry of Education number plates.
In his response, the accounting officer for Kyambogo University explained that the vehicles in bad condition belong to the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), and that he had written to the ministry to obtain authority to either dispose them off or to have them taken by MoES.
Ministry of Local Government spent more than Shs13.8m on four vehicles that were confirmed as having been grounded throughout the year and were ineligible for any repairs.
Ministry of Justice had eight vehicles for years and most of them parked in the ministry’s parking yard thus wasting the valuable space. The Auditor General noted that failure to dispose of the grounded vehicles can also result in storage costs especially those vehicles kept in garages, loss in value of the vehicles due to depreciation and theft of vehicle parts and vandalism of idle vehicles in the garages.
The Accounting Officer at the ministry of Justice explained that the process of disposal delayed due to the need to ensure that the process was transparently done. The process is now on course and the vehicles are expected to be boarded off soon.
Some government officials cited lack of funds and explained that some garages in town had refused to offer services without settlement of outstanding dues and Ministry of Finance had not allocated them money which led to the diversion of the available funds to undertake the emergency repairs for some vehicles.
When contacted on Monday, Jonas Tumwine, the spokesperson of Ministry of Public Service, the docket responsible for the management of all government vehicles, said the ministry issued guidelines and standing orders on the use of government vehicles.
“There is absolutely no reason why government vehicles should be allowed to rot when they can be disposed of through PPDA,” Mr Tumwine said, adding: “The respective accounting officers should be tasked to explain why vehicles are grounded yet our guidelines are very clear. Ministries have no parking spaces. The limited space should be used for other important things not to park unused vehicles.”
The AG has expressed serious concern that grounded vehicles in private garages and government offices around the country could go to complete waste and demanded that they are repaired or sold to avoid unnecessary wastage.
In his June 2014 report to Parliament, the AG noted wasteful expenditure to the tune of Shs7.4b arose mainly as a result of parking fees for grounded vehicles and interest on late payments, delayed handover of sites, court settlements among others.
A source at AG’s office told Daily Monitor that mechanics they interviewed, noted that it takes several months for the government to settle a vehicle repair bills and that some garages are even forced to turn down government business.
Regulation 295 (1) of the PPDA and Treasury Instructions require an accounting officer to carry out regular annual reviews of assets for purposes of identifying those which are obsolete and those that should be disposed. Good practice also requires that the assets that are no longer of economic value to the organisation be disposed and the profits or losses that accrue from such sales subsequently disclosed in the financial statements.