Revelations and scandals emerging at Uganda’s power transmission company, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) indicate why the energy sector, despite the government throwing billions on it, still has a long way to go.
An audit of the organization indicate that the country’s energy transmitter is not only ruined by incompetency but also corruption, greed, and nepotism which has over the years escaped the scrutiny of the press, civil society organisations and government ombudsman.
Today, we would like to focus on how nepotism and failure to eat the loot in ‘silence’ has let the cat out of the bag. It was a well-kept secret at UETCL that the board led by Peter Ucanda, which is the busiest board in the country, given the number of sittings it has, runs the functions of Finance and Human resources decision making.
History had it that all CEOs of UETCL were engineers. The last engineer to lead the power transmitter was Kiryanika who peacefully went into retirement. His deputy Katabira was the natural successor although it was not the case.
The board instead elevated the chief finance officer George Rwabajungu to the position of chief executive, a move which angered some of its members, and left contentions given egos, camps and ambitions involved in who leads the country’s single bulk energy buyer.
Like they say, the devil is always in the details. During the recruitment process of the managing director, one of the board members allegedly eyed the managing director’s job. That person was Abdon Atwine. However, the company secretary Georgina contested the position as it was contrary to the board charter. Sections of the board, in the process, ganged up together to fire the company secretary who had become a problem to the elevation of one of their own. On firing her, she went to court to challenge her firing. Before the court verdict, it has however emerged that the board wants the position of company secretary scrapped, and has written to the Electricity Regulatory Authority to endorse the move. Reports from ERA however, indicate that the regulator has declined to sanction the scrapping of the position since it is only eight months ago that they approved the Human Resource manual for the same organization.
If Georgina defeats UETCL in court, the appellant could as well reoccupy the position, or, take the cost from damages. For fear that Georgina could actually return, and given the position at stake, the wounded person could be exposed under dealings in the agency.
Nevertheless, the UETCL board is so powerful, unlike any other board in Uganda, because it defines the operations of key departments. This is however against the actual role of being a strategic layer for the power entity.
For instance, this website understands that all payments above sh300 million, are cleared by the board.
This is where the crux of the matter is. On Sunday, Monitor newspaper exposed dirt in the managerial and oversight operations of the country’s energy transmitter, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).
Reports that Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) bosses are in a spot of bother following Lands minister Sam Mayanja exposing a racket of scammers causing billions of shilling losses in compensations.
The latest compensation scam involves more than Ugx28 billion, however, the board has been trying to deny responsibility and fix the chief executive officer, who in actual terms cannot approve any amount above sh300 million without the board’s approval.
The board, which sits twice a week at a tune of sh1 million per sitting per head, should also explain how it didn’t spot forgeries of land titles in wetlands along the route of the soon-to-be constructed 132 kilovolt (KV) transmission line from Namanve to Luzira.
The gross recruitment irregularities and fraudulent deals allegedly orchestrated by the company’s human resource (HR) department, could as well as be traced at the doorsteps of the boardroom.
It is apparent that all board members have had the human resource function in their custody. This website understands that all board members have got their children, relatives or children of friends employed in the company. This is contrary to the equal opportunities act which bars this conflict of interest. However, at UETCL, relatives, whose names this website promises to reveal in due time, have been hired in Public relations, finance, procurement, projects, etc departments.
“The worst case scenario at UETCL is where the legal head supervises a sister!” said a report.
The problem is – when one becomes a board member of UETCL, their terms are indefinite. “UETCL has a lifetime board membership”, said a whistleblower.
“Because the UETCL board charter does not have a minimum cap, some members have outlived their purpose at the entity,” said the source. To make matters worse, there is a board member at UETCL who sits on two boards, one supervising the other in the sector. Yet the same person is an officer employed in a government ministry.
Too many board sittings
Aren’t boards meant to offer strategic direction for organization, but should allow management to do its function? It is a No at UETCL as the board there sits twice a week! This makes the board members seem like employees of the organization. To make matters worse, the sittings of the board are making the organization breed as the nine members, take home, sh1 million each from every sitting, meaning each board member at least draws sh8 million per month directly from the organization.
“This is a burden to the electricity consumer as this money comes from the tariff they pay,” said the whistleblower. “What do these people discuss twice a week if not starting to interfere with functions of management and field staff?” She asked.
To make matters, the already overburdening board hold regular trainings (whatever they are training in) and are paid per day.
UETCL therefore sits in a state of quagmire and necessary steps have to be undertaken to rescue it from wrong hands. With several projects stalled across the country, largely blamed on connivance with PAPs, counter negotiations and hoarding land titles of people some for over 10 years – these and more are responsible for the inefficiencies in the power transmission company.
“We can upon Parliament to take interest in what is going on at Mukono substation, as well as Nkenda, and Namanve projects,” said the source.
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