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MPs Question UWA Over Failure to Collect UGX 500m from Private Park Developers

The report of the Auditor General for 2015/2016 financial year noted among others that UWA failed to collect outstanding fees of $209,546 (approximately shillings 500 million) from six developers. The six companies included Tourvest, Protea Hotel Luxury tented camp at Kalerwoki in Kidepo National Park and Shani Luxury tented camp at Amwapas in Kidepo National Park. Others were Pakuba Safari Lodge, Asyanut Ntoroko Lodge, Rwenzori Mountaineering services and Balloon Tours.

Audio 3

 The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises –COSASE has grilled officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA for failing to collect outstanding fees from private developers in various conservation areas.  

UWA grants concessions to the private sector to develop tourism facilities within protected areas as one of the ways to generate revenue.   

This stemmed from audit queries in the report of the Auditor General for 2015/2016 financial year, which noted among others that UWA failed to collect approximately shillings 500 million from six developers.  

The companies include Tourvest, Protea Hotel Luxury tented camp at Kalerwoki in Kidepo National Park and Shani Luxury tented camp at Amwapas in Kidepo National Park.  Others were Pakuba Safari Lodge, Asyanut Ntoroko Lodge, Rwenzori Mountaineering services and Balloon Tours. 

The developers signed concession agreements with UWA. The agreements indicate that the contractor must submit an operating plan within 3 months of signing the agreement that would include standards of maintenance and upkeep of the tourism facilities operated by the company. 

The agreements also provide that the fees once billed must be collected within 30 days.  

However, the IGG’s report noted that the six developers had either failed to submit plans or delayed to commence operations between 2-11 years after signing the agreements. 

The Executive Director of UWA, Sam Mwandha explained to the committee that after signing contracts, the best-evaluated company may delay to start operations because they have to conduct an environmental impact assessment and submit it to National Environment Management Authority-NEMA for approval among other factors.     

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He, however, says that the current contracts provide that the developer must pay fees 2 years after they signed the agreement regardless of whether or not they have begun operations in response to the audit queries.   

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However, committee member Michael Mawanda asked why UWA did not enforce performance guarantees in order to hold the developers accountable.  Mawanda also asked what actions were taken against officials who failed to do their work at UWA. 

Mawanda said that that the head of procurement, Mark Opowo and former UWA Executive Director, Dr Andrew Seguya and board of directors should also appear before the committee to answer pending audit queries on the concessions.     

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