A few years ago, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) requested for USD280 million loan from African Development Bank for infrastructural development. If completed, KCCA forecasts a facelift on Uganda’s capital city, with an improvement in the mass public transport system of Uganda’s capital.
However, the African Development Bank through research found out that it was better for KCCA to first consider the issue of decongesting the city before agreeing to give them first, a loan of USD12 million (approximately Shs43.2 billion) to kick start the project.
And before giving out the loan, African Development Bank put on table a number of suggestions, inclusive of one of importing buses, something which wasn’t well perceived by President Yoweri Museveni since to him building local content was one of Uganda’s priorities.
On 19 August, 2020, Mr Museveni directed the then Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to call for a conference comprising Kiira motors, Luwero Industries, Metu Katabaazi and others to forge a way forward as far as building indigenous motor vehicle industry for both fossil and electrical sources of power.
“In the matter of vehicles, we must aggressively get out of the practice of importing not only built-up vehicles but even the knockdown vehicles. Neither is the practice of importing ready-built vehicles nor is the practice of vehicles assembly acceptable to us because we end up exporting money and jobs when we should not. The correct strategy is vehicle fabrication, for buses, lorries, pickups and cars etc.,” Museveni told Rugunda.
In September, 2020, President Museveni also told Dr Rugunda that after some consultations, he was convinced that Uganda must move decisively on the the issue of of the automobiles and that was to be done following two lines;- the Kiira- Kayoola electric vehicles’ and the Metu Katabazi bus fabrication lines.
“This is therefore, to direct all concerned , that there will be no more importation of ready-built buses or building of assembly plants. The Private sector, KCCA, schools etc, work with Kiira motors and Metu Katabazi to make these automobiles here.”
However, despite receiving a Presidential nod, investigations have since revealed that Metu could not be ready to fabricate buses on a large scale.
And because of such setback Metu with the help of some top KCCA officials have been pestering the Ministry of Finance to release the Shs43 billion which the authority received from Africa Development Bank.
Metu claim they need the money to kickoff the project since they have a Memorandum of Understanding with KCCA.
However, Metu Propertor Mr Katabaazi has distanced himself from doing business with any government agency.
“I am private sector 100%. I am responsible for all the money we are injected in the bus business. We are not sharing anything.” Metu said, adding, we only expect government to do its part of regulation.
However, according to sources, the bus industry is conniving with some top KCCA officials to fail the project, that is why the Ministry of Finance has been reluctant to release the money.
Metu has not made matters better, but delaying to launch the project three years down the road.
Although Museveni had commissioned the Metu Zhong Tong bus assembling plant which was started in 2017 by Katatabazi, its Chairman and proprietor of the Namanve based industry, he remained very straight to the point that whoever has capacity has the right to assemble and manufacture vehicles as he had put a stop on importing the buses. He clearly meant that government was not going to fund private companies wishing to produce and those without money should leave those with the capacity to produce or even fabricate buses.
Apart from having a less productive plant in Namanve, Metu also has a large chunk of land in Kasese on which they have failed to set up another project.
Early this week, President Museveni once again met Metu Katabazi at State House Entebbe to find out why there’s a delay in the project and to finalize plans for the company to assemble and manufacture buses to ease transport needs in the greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA).
The meeting was also attended by 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 Evelyn Anite, the Minister for Kampala Misi Kabanda and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka.
During the interaction, Mr Katabazi said the project would have kicked off already but it was frustrated by some top officials government.
“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 condition was that we import buses. How can we import buses? I have called you here to finish this today,” Museveni said after being lied to by Katabazi.
However, Minister Kasaija said the project 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.
The wise decision by the finance minister to clearly state it In front of the President that the USD12 million is entirely meant for KCCA to work on the road network and necessary infrastructure to enable whoever is ready with the buses to use the infrastructure, though it angered Metu, it saved the taxpayers money which mafias wanted to swindle.
“Mafias usually misinterpret president’s statements and also accuse government officials of frustrating their projects, yet in most cases they are only intending to find ways of stealing, hiding in hoax projects. If Metu has the funds and not intending to burden the government, let them manufacture buses and then bring them on the road because Uganda is entirely liberal as far as doing business is concerned,” a source told this news website.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org