Roko deal not related to Lubowa project, says gov’t

Roko staff attend a workshop recently. The construction company has had its contract on a two-storeyed building housing Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja cancelled over alleged shoddy work. PHOTO/FILE 

What you need to know:

  • Mr Pius Biribonwoha, the deputy Solicitor General distanced the Roko deal from the Lubowa stalled project.

Government has said the controversial Roko deal is not related to the stalled International Specialised Hospital of Uganda (ISHU) project at Lubowa.

Uganda seeks to acquire 150,000 preference shares worth Shs202billion in Roko Construction Limited following the company’s financial decline in recent years.

The ISHU project on the other hand caught the public’s attention [in the recent years] because of the limited progress it has made yet the government has continuously invested a lot of money in it including channeling to it Shs348 billion shillings, money, which was accorded for the Financial Year, 2021/2022.

The link between Roko and ISHU came to light on Tuesday at Parliament’s Finance Committee after Mr Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala County legislator who also serves as the shadow minister of Finance demanded for more clarification from government over the matter.

“We have seen a similar provision in Lubowa where we have an owner’s engineer who literally certifies everything that we do. The owner’s engineer issued certification for a construction that did not exist and the country lost billions of Shillings, in Lubowa,” Mr Kivumbi said.

 “Roko [previously] came to this Parliament with Pinetti on Lubowa and it was part of the package, the brand of Roko was used as the sweetener and [some] years down, we don’t know what happened, so, we are very careful with touching Roko,” he added.

Ms Enrica Pinetti, an Italian investor, is the developer behind both ISHU and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company (UVCC), a privately owned firm that was also backed by the government to process and export the country’s coffee. Parliament however terminated the coffee deal.

Mr Pius Biribonwoha, the deputy Solicitor General distanced the Roko deal from the Lubowa stalled project.

“With all respect, I don’t think this is similar to Lubowa in terms of the interventions we are proposing now,” Mr Biribonwoha said, adding, “I think the structure of the two, the owner’s engineer compared to what we are saying here are totally different, so, the comfort for members is that the Attorney General has looked at this transaction very critically and gives the assurances that the interventions, mitigation measures that we are proposing should be able to alley our fears.”

The Finance Committee, which is chaired by Mr Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East County), expects to conclude its probe this week before a report is presented to Parliament for debate.

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