There is a mystery surrounding the whereabouts of two containers recently impounded by the Minerals Protection Police Unit (MPPU) almost two months ago.
The two containers were impounded near Katuna border along the Rwandan border on August 5, 2018 on suspicion that they being used to transport gold and iron ore from Uganda illegally.
Deputy police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango sent out a message inviting journalists on August 16 to witness the opening of the containers at the Spedag Interfreight Uganda offices in Nakawa in Kampala.
However, the media event was called off under clear circumstances and no explanation was given. Since then, no clear information has been given about the contents in the two containers.
According to reliable sources, shortly after the containers were intercepted, their owners reportedly showed up with documents showing that they had been cleared by the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Both containers had what appeared like RRA seals. The businessmen also reportedly claimed that they had picked the minerals from Ngororero district in western Rwanda and were in transit to United States of America. However, a month and half later, the containers have been changing hands between police and ministry of Energy, Mineral Development officials.
A reliable source in the MPPU said that highly placed persons in government have stalled investigations into the source of the containers.
"Immediately those containers were impounded, phone calls started coming in from every side. The documents containing details of the owner of the containers whom we had found out was a Rwandan national were called by the ministry of Energy," the source said.
Onyango revealed that the documentation purportedly issued by RRA and URA turned out to be forgeries.
"Whatever is in those containers was picked from Kabale or Kisoro districts and the clearances of RRA and URA were forged," Onyango said.
Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima told URN on August 14 that they have never opened the containers and had handed them over to URA. But URA publicist, Herbert Ssempogo denied knowledge of the containers, saying they have never heard about them.
"I have contacted our enforcement manager and we don't have any such trucks or containers. Let the person who told you we have them show you any documentary proof," Ssempogo said.
A source at the ministry of Energy Directorate of Geology, Survey and Mining (DGSM) said that the containers were opened and samples taken for analysis.
"The owners of containers got a clearance to export a different mineral, but when they opened, it was found that they had iron ore from Kabale district, which the president had earlier stopped from being exported," the source said.
In 2013, President Museveni banned the exportation of iron ore as a way of encouraging value addition. His position was that the iron should be locally processed and its steel used to feed the steel industry, which relies heavily on imported iron.
The directive also suggested importation of coal from Mozambique to smelt the iron since Uganda doesn't have its own coal. The directive has been largely implemented and only Moses Kamuntu, a Kampala based businessman has written clearance from Museveni to export iron ore.
According to Global Witness, an organisation that monitors the operation of the extractive industry, Kamuntu exports 10,000 tonnes of iron ore monthly. In July 2018, police impounded an estimated 150 tonnes of iron ore that was heading to Kenya.
Records at the ministry of Energy indicate that Uganda has about 200 million tons of proven iron ore while it is believed that there are 500 million more tons underground.