HomeAGRICULTUREThe parliamentary trade committee has uncovered gross mismanagement and abuse of office...

The parliamentary trade committee has uncovered gross mismanagement and abuse of office at Soroti Fruit Factory.

By Jimmy Muhumuza.

Parliament

According to the committee findings, the factory, which was established by the government to promote agricultural transformation and add value to the under-utilised fruit production in the region, is punctured by irregularities in its operation.

The Committee Chairperson, Hon Mwine Mpaka, presented the findings to Parliament on Wednesday, March 02, 2022 in a sitting chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among.

Mpaka cited the construction of a perimeter wall at a cost of Shs2.5 billion, down from Shs734 million previously quoted.

This, he said, was occasioned by the awarding of the work to another contractor.

“The perimeter wall had been quoted for a sum amounting to Shs 734 million by Willis International Engineers and Construction Limited. However, Uganda Development Corporation, on behalf of Soroti Factory, entered into another contract with Willis Construction again before the expiry of the previous contract, costing Shs369 million, “the report reads in part.”

Trade Committee chairman with other members inspecting the wall

The committee found that the face wall was constructed poorly and had already developed cracks in a period of less than a few years.

Mpaka held that the roads were poorly constructed, adding that the Uganda Investment Authority and Ministries of Finance and Works were not involved in the procurement and planning of the roads.

“Certain sections of the roads were constructed through swamps and streams but were not given proper drainage, making them susceptible to flooding,” he added.

Mpaka added that the Teso Farmers’ Cooperative Union (TEFCU), a 20 percent shareholder in the Soroti Factory and charged with purchasing fruit from the local farmers, has failed to meet the obligations in the Local Purchasing Orders.

Some of the orange gardens

Mpaka said that despite farmers having rotting fruits in their orchards, the TEFCU had consistently failed to satisfy the demand for the factory since 2019.

The findings also reveal that fruit farmers are not allowed to supply fruit directly to the factory, something he said is a reserve of TEFCU.

members of the committee interacting with locals

A double sack of oranges weighing about 120 kg is bought from the farmers at a meagre price of between Shs15,000 and 20,000 without weighing. The same bag is later sold at the same price to the fruit factory at Shs70,000, “he said, adding that, “buying fruits from farmers without weighing them is exploitation and could be the reason why some farmers have resorted to cutting down their orchards while others have neglected the fruits to fall and rot in the orchards.”

Members of parliament on trade committee inspecting orange gardens in Sororti

The committee concluded that the factory was yet to be utilised for the reasons it was set up, based on the prevailing issues concerning its management.

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments