President Museveni has taken a swipe at Ministry of Finance officials for always delaying government projects as they solicit bribes.
“I handed this matter to the Ministry of Finance, Attorney General’s office….nothing moved. I hear some people asked for bribes. Later I heard that people from Finance wanted loans from Africa Development Bank but the condition was that we import buses. How can we import buses? I have called you here to finish this today,” he said.
The president was on Wednesday witnessing the signing of the deal between KCCA and METU bus industries in which the company will assemble buses for transport in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.
At the function held at State House in Entebbe, Museveni said whereas the idea is good, it had been delayed by Ministry of Finance officials because of their selfish interests.
“The idea of producing buses and trains in Kampala is to lessen the crowds and reduce piki piki. Katabazi says if you give me the concession to operate Kampala Services, I fabricate and operate here. KCCA doesn’t have to incur costs. He will recover his costs through operations. This will address the issue of too many small operations at zero budget for government,” he said.
He noted that in a final push to get the project off the ground after three years of bureaucratic red-tape that threatened to sabotage it, he summoned all stakeholders including Vice President Jessica Alupo, Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Kasule Lumumba, the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, Minister for Investment Evelyne Anite, the Minister for Kampala Misi Kabanda, KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka and the METU Bus Industries proprietor Metu Katabazi to address the matter.
Speaking during the meeting, Finance Minister, Matia Kasaijja said the project was delayed because they were waiting for KCCA to work on the roads which are narrow and may inconvenience or cause accidents.
“Projects go hand in hand. We had to work on the roads and widen them for the buses to open. If roads are too narrow, it may cause inconveniences and cause accidents. I also wrote to the bank to inform them that the US$12million that was meant for importing buses should be added on the roads,” he said.
Kasaija’s response was however not convincing to Museveni who said it was making sense to focus on roads instead of manufacturing the buses locally.
“What I will not accept are contracts that make you import buses. There is no way somebody can tell me that peripheral roads more important than factories. How can a planner equate productive capacity with a road especially manufacture of automobiles,” he said.
Museveni added that in the 60s, the Kabandole bus services where moving around Kampala and neighbouring areas.
KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaaka assured President Museveni that following approval by the Attorney General, the process has been completed after the signing of the agreement and MoU between KCCA and METU.
Metu Katabazi the proprietor of the bus company recently embarked on an assembly plant in Kasese in which he said they would invest US$50 million in the next five years .
He noted that hopes to build capacity to manufacture over 100 buses including the 4metre city buses, 4.8 to 18 metre long buses for rapid transport for the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) including the Kampala city centre and the inner suburbs.