OPM officials arrested for inflating relief food prices by Shs 4bn
- Written by NICHOLAS BAMULANZEKI
Several senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have been arrested by the State House Anti-corruption unit for allegedly inflating prices relief food.
The officers, arrested include the permanent secretary Christine Guwatudde Kintu, accounting officer Joe Wanjala, assistant commissioner procurement Fred Mutimba and commissioner disaster management (head COVID-19) Martin Owor.
According to the statement, over Shs 4 billion was lost in inflated prices after the officials quoted Shs 3900 per kilogram of maize flour as opposed to the market price of Shs 2500-3000 and Shs 4500 per kilogram of beans as opposed to Shs 3000-4000 market price. Government ordered 9,030,000 kilograms of maize flour and 635,000 kilograms of beans. The suppliers included Afro Kai Uganda Ltd, Global Trust Ltd, Mandela Millers and Aponye Uganda Ltd.
Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Anti-corruption Unit, notes that her unit carried out a special investigation on the on-going COVID-19 food procurement exercise and established that the accounting officers in OPM were inflating prices for maize flour and beans procured as relief food for vulnerable families.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire says that police are going to interrogate the arrested officials as well as the suppliers who claim to have lower food prices whose offers were allegedly rejected.
The government started distributing of food and other essential items to 1.5 million people in Kampala and Wakiso districts as an intervention towards vulnerable communities, and families whose livelihood was affected by the ongoing lockdown.
Each beneficiary receives three kilograms of beans, six kilograms of flour and 1/2kg of salt. Lactating mothers and the sick are given two kilograms of powdered milk and two kilograms of sugar.
Some of the beneficiaries have complained about the quality of the supplies especially beans. Indeed, state minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru yesterday admitted that the supplied "beans are not first-class."
Instead I would be very surprised if this Covid-19 struggle to feed the disadvantaged went without any scandals. But as it is the case our gallant officers have lived to their billing and have not disappointed.
But my word of caution to those looters you better wait for 2022 but if you loot between now and 2021 I can assure you that your goose is already cooked because you are spoiling someone's votes.
Don't you see how the police have coiled their tails? It is not about Ugandans but the driving factor is elections are just around the corner.
Just this one time for the sake of humanity, these OPM officials could have tapped themselves in the chest and desisted from taking advantage of the situation for the sake of suffering Ugandans.
This is a pandemic and we don't know when things will get better. People are hungry and some are dieing. Shame on these guys. Best policy for such a crime in this time of war is to charge them with treason or murder like the president keeps saying.
Lt. Col. Nakalema is keep up the good work and continue to bite any" thieves" wherever they are!!
They are destroying the reputation of Uganda as a country and of other hard working Ugandans
The simple maths in my head tells me that they we're targeting killing about 1 million Ugandans and turning another cool 1 million Ugandans deprived of food into criminals.