The Chinese government has formally indicated that it supports China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), one of the Chinese firms fighting for the UGX 22 trillion deal to construct the Standard Gauge Railway Line to take up the project.
The Deputy Director General in the Chinese Ministry of Transport, Tang Guomei told a Parliamentary select committee investigating controversies surrounding the deal that the Chinese Transport Ministry recommended CHEC to build the Standard Gauge Railway.
They met at the Chinese Transport Ministry headquarters on Monday 26th January 2015.
The committee led by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko was seeking clarity on the capacity of CHEC to handle the project.
“The Ministry of Transport only recommended CHEC and does not know any other company but they could have had their own way of competing to get the contract,” she noted.
Commenting on the capacity of CHEC to handle such a project, Guomei revealed that CHEC has the capacity to mobilise resources since they had a long standing relationship with the Chinese Import and Export Bank, China Bank of Development and several commercial banks that support Chinese contractors in securing contracts overseas.
The technical capacity of CHEC has been one of the points of dispute after some witnesses told the Committee that its expertise lies in bridges and harbours-but not railway lines.
Robert Kafeero Sekitoleko, the select Committee chairman, said that Uganda is interested in many Chinese companies but they need to do their work transparently and competitively.
The deal to construct the railway triggered controversy when State Minister for Works John Byabagambi cancelled an understanding with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and picked China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC) to construct the eastern railway line.
CCECC then went to court seeking justice in what they called unfair withdrawal of contract but later on withdrew the case.
Later four MPs led by Lwemiyaga County Theodore Sekikubo petitioned Parliament citing flaws in the procurement process.
Members of the Committee who are in China till 31st January 2015 include the Committee Chair Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko, Kalaki County MP Clement Ongalo Obote , Sheema District Woman MP Rosemary Nyakikongoro, Kumi County MP Patrick Amuriat, Ibanda North MP Xavier Kyooma and Amuria District Woman MP Suzan Amero.