PADER. President Museveni has admitted World Bank’s suspension of loans to Uganda is ‘partly right’, saying former corrupt officials at Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) caused the trouble.
He said the laxity by corrupt officials at Unra to assess the impact of stone blasting on the environment during the construction of the Shs120 billion 66.2-kilometre Kamwenge-Fort Portal road was among the reasons for the suspension of the loans.
“There were several thieves in Unra. For example in Kamwenge District, corrupt officials did not supervise the contractor who blasted stones within the community in contravention of the environment laws,” Mr Museveni said.
He noted that despite the local community complaining of being affected by the stones blasted in their midst, some of the corrupt officials paid a deaf ear.
Mr Museveni was speaking during celebrations to mark the International Day of the Elderly at Bishop Flynn Secondary School in Pader Town council, Pader District, at the weekend.
In December last year, WB suspended funding for the Uganda transport initiative amounting to $265 million, citing environmental concerns and allegations of sexual misconduct by the contractors.
Recently, WB withheld more than $1.5 billion (Shs5 trillion) in lending for many projects until further notice as it reviews the projects it is funding in the country. Mr Museveni even after admitting that there were flaws, however, went ahead to blame WB, saying the suspension came at a time when those he termed as ‘thieves’ in UNRA had already been fired.
“I think officials at WB don’t read news. They should have known that before the suspension, those corrupt officials had been sacked. I even complained to the World Bank president about that,” Mr Museveni said.
President assures on projects
President Museveni assured the country that with or without the help of WB, his government will fund those road projects currently undergoing construction. He explained that already the government is funding road works for Olwiyo in Nwoya, Gulu-Acholi bur in Kitgum District up to Musingo in Lamwo District.
In an effort to save projects whose failure may have impacted negatively on the economy, the President recently wrote to the World Bank promising that his government is addressing the structural gaps and loopholes that prompted withholding of the lending.
Majority of Uganda’s road projects are funded by development partners such as the EU and the African Development Bank.