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Chinese construction firm petitions parliament over Shs 20bn deal

A Chinese firm claiming to have been cheated out of a deal to extract gravel has petitioned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, seeking her intervention.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is battling with Welt Machinen Engineering company over the ownership of the mineral-rich Kamusalaba rock in Lorengedwat sub-county, Nakapiripirit district.

Welt Machinen belongs to Ben Koriang and Felix Oroma, sons of Peter Lokeris, the minister of state for Minerals.

At the centre of the protracted three-year standoff is the Shs 20 billion payment for construction material by the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), which was deposited with the court registrar before the two parties clear their legal dispute.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga

CRBC claims the Shs 20bn was earnings from the completed Moroto-Nakapiririti road project. In a letter dated July 28 to Kadaga, CRBC says the matter was “affecting their businesses in Uganda” and are therefore seeking her protection.

“Withholding Shs 20bn through such irregularities does not give us confidence as investors from protection from speculators who want to take advantage of genuine business,” the letter reads in part.

THE START

CRBC claim they entered into an agreement with the Nakapiripiriti district local government on May 13, 2013 to operate a quarry and extract rock for road-building purposes from Kamusalaba.

CRBC was awarded and subsequently signed the contract with Unra for upgrading the 93-km Moroto–Nakapiripirit road.

They further claim to have invested $2 million in machinery but later, according to their letter to Kadaga, Welt Machinen Engineering claimed ownership of the land on which the quarry was based.

Subsequent legal battles with Welt Engineering have stalled progress on the rock and also sucked in President Museveni even though he has not yet responded.

On June 29, CRBC wrote to President Museveni, saying: “As investors we have executed work legitimately in the national interest, we should not suffer inconvenience of having to fight with speculators who want to take advantage of the court process as they have nothing to lose.”

amwesigwa@observer.ug

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd