March 19, 2013

LC BICYCLES’ SCAM: Kashaka Denies Responsibility

John Muhanguzi Kashaka
John Muhanguzi Kashaka

Interdicted Local Government Permanent Secretary John Muhanguzi Kashaka has denied abusing his office that led to the loss of over 4.2 billion shillings during the botched procurement of 70,000 bicycles for Local Council chairpersons.

Kashaka, who today appeared before the Anti Corruption Court in Kampala presided over by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, instead shifted the blame on to Bank of Uganda (BOU) and the forged shipping documents.

He said BOU received the original documents but did not in any way indicate that they were forged and yet they were supposed to verify and confirm the documents on behalf of government.

Prosecution led by Jane Abodo alleges that BOU warned Kashaka about the discrepancies in the contract, but that he ignored the warning and signed the documents, an act that led to loss of government money.

Some of the alleged discrepancies the prosecution pointed out include; change in delivery destination of bicycles from the village councils to Kampala city; and that the 70,000 bicycles were to be delivered by road transport but Kashaka changed to railway transport, among others.

But in his defense, Kashaka, who was being led by his lawyer Mohammed Mbabazi, said the decision to change the destination was done by other officers since he had travelled to Beijing, China. He also defended this change on grounds that the treasury had advised that there was no way taxes on the bicycles would be paid if they had been delivered to the villages.

Kashaka further informed court that the Works Ministry also needed to verify the bicycles from Kampala.

Kashaka is jointly charged along with five others. They stand accused of abusing their offices when allegedly signed a final contract with Amman Industrial Tools and Equipment Ltd (Aitel) for delivery of 70,000 bicycles without contacting the contracts committee.

Over 4.2 billion shillings is alleged to have been paid to the supply firm but no bicycle up to date, has been delivered.

But Kashaka informed court that he signed on the contract because it was his duty as the accounting officer to do so, hence no irregularity committed. He also explained that he signed on the contract upon being given a go ahead by the contracts committee manager and the Solicitor General.

The hearing continues.

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