The MPs on the Committee had convened the meeting on Wednesday, 20 July 2022 to find out steps being taken to end the fuel crisis and also to establish the support given to the Uganda National Oil Company – UNOC to support the national oil reserves to avert the fuel crisis.
The Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, and his Energy counterpart Ruth Nankabirwa left lawmakers fuming after they snubbed a committee meeting that is seeking their responses about the Government's strategy to stabilize the escalating fuel prices.
The Government Assurance and Implementation Committee on led by their Vice-chairperson, Joseph Ssewungu Gonzaga had invited the Ministers but they never showed-up, and neither delegated representatives nor communicated the reasons for non-attendance.
But obviously, the ministers would have been in an awkward situation discussing fuel price stabilization, knowing very well that the president was scheduled to address the nation on the subject, with his anti-intervention stance obviously already known to the line ministers.
And as expected, when President Yoweri Museveni spoke, he ruled out intervention which the MPs and sections of the public have been asking for. Instead, the president urged Ugandans to this smart, strategic and long-term and embrace the electrification of mobility, which the government is already doing.
Museveni explained that it is unwise to throw the government's meagre resources in stabilizing the fuel sector that is already messing up the planet by driving climate change which is a result of global warming fueled by carbon emissions, to which vehicle exhausts are a major contributor.
Moreover, Museveni explained further that interventions are unlikely to be effective given that the industry is transforming rapidly from internal combustion engines to electric, and so the fuel companies have to cash in as their time to power transport is running out.
The government through the Ministry Of Science and Technology has been investing in electric mobility, through Kiira Motors Corporation -KMC. The company which is owned 96% by MOST and 4% by Makerere University, has so far designed, but and put on the road four fully electric buses -Kayoola EVs - the first of which hit the road in December 2019 and was deployed in the Civil Aviation Authority. It has already clocked 47,000 kilometres operating on the Airport - City Centre route and has had no technical problem whatsoever.
KMC is also building fifty electric buses and over a thousand diesel coaches on order for Tondeka bus company. The buses are currently being built n the military industrial complex as KMC is working around the clock to finish its state of the art plant for producing clean energy vehicles at Jinja. The plant is expected to be commissioned next year.
Yesterday the snubbed MPs had convened the meeting to quiz the ministers to find out steps being taken to end the fuel crisis and also to establish the support given to the Uganda National Oil Company – UNOC to support the national oil reserves to avert the fuel crisis, waited in vain, as only technical officers from the Ministry of Energy led by Honey Malinga, the Acting Director of Petroleum turned up. No officers from the Ministry of Finance appeared forcing the committee chairperson to adjourn the meeting.
Ssewungu accused the Ministers of always giving excuses that they have been summoned to the State House by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to discuss urgent matters of national importance.
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Ssewungu further instructed the Committee to write again to the individual Ministers in question, including the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Ramathan Ggoobi to appear before the committee on Tuesday, 26 July 2022 without fail or else they face arrest.
He explained that UNOC has severally written letters to the Ministry of Finance to support the fuel reserves but the Ministry has never responded. Ssewungu added that the skyrocketing fuel prices are alarming and may cause instability if not tackled now.
Tom Alero Aza, the Moyo West MP warned that if Government does not take the price increase seriously, Uganda is in danger and at risk of plunging into an economic recession.
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Bugweri District Woman MP, Racheal Magoola also supplemented that the country is moving towards a disaster and the Government needs to act fast to restore sanity.
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However, earlier in February, the Government had pledged to organise the dealers and stakeholders in the petroleum industry to discuss a way forward on the high costs by forming an association but to no avail by far. Fuel prices in the country specifically petrol and diesel have continued to skyrocket, currently standing between Shillings 6,200 to 6,700.
At the end of May 2022, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics computed that the price of diesel increased by 54 percent by while petrol recorded an increase of 30 percent since the beginning of the year. Apart from the local and regional factors, prices of fuel are mainly driven by the changes in the prices of crude oil in the international market being compounded by the raging Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.