21 June 2019

Uganda: Rural Electrification Boss Sacked, MPs Seek Museveni Intervention

Rural Electrification Agency (REA) executive director Godfrey Turyahikayo has been fired by the board.

In a May 30, letter seen by Daily Monitor, Mr Robert Kasande, the REA chairman informed Mr Turyahikayo, that the board would not renew his contract due to failure in the implementation of some agency activities.

"... there were very disturbing trends in decline of implementation of activities of the agency for the last four years. In that regard at its sitting of May 27, 2019, the board declined to renew your contract," the letter reads in part.

Mr Turyahikayo has been running the agency since it was established in 2003.

However, in a seven page letter written by Mr Keefa Kiwanuka, the Parliament natural resources committee chairman asked the President to intervene in the matter, pointing to a leadership wrangle within the agency.

"... We know there have been leadership wrangles at REA but thought the board would not go ahead to worsen the problem by creating winners and losers in the organisation," Mr Kiwanuka said in a letter, asking the President to ensure that all employees of REA have their contracts renewed.

REA was set up in 2003 to spearhead rural electrification, whose access currently stands at only 6 per cent.

The agency, governed by a seven-member board, is also currently in charge of implementing the free electricity connection policy.

Fraud and substandard products

The committee in a brief, mentioned issues of contention that need the President's attention such as the refusal to renew the ED's contract as "a matter potentially with disastrous consequences for the energy sector and REA itself."

It also mentions issues of quality and suspected fraud in projects implemented by REA, which have been highlighted by different sector players.

The agency, Mr Kiwanuka said, is also crippled by poor governance, adding that Mr Turyahikayo should not be sacrificed because he has previously helped to whistle blow on the quality of equipment and material and tasked his some of his staff including the deputy executive director technical operations to investigate.

Among the materials were falling and rotting poles within a short time of erection, transformer failures and faulty circuit breakers.

The brief also claims that the REA deputy executive director technical operations, who was asked to take remedial action has to date not done anything about it.

The same issues were two years later reported to the board, forcing the board to send both Mr Turyahikayo and the deputy executive director Godfrey Werikhe on a six-month forced leave in 2017 pending an investigation by the Auditor General.

However, the two, in November 2017, returned to office but maintained a hostile relationship, which in effect caused office tension and a leadership wrangle.

Both Mr Turyahikayo and Mr Kasande declined to comment on the matter.

"I cannot respond at the moment," Mr Turyahikayo said while Mr Kasande said: "Those are matters of the board."

Mr Kiwanuka made his line busy when contacted for a comment.

Major concerns

According to the board, Mr Turyahikayo, is accused of failure to implement a number of some agency activities. In a letter, the REA board noted there were very disturbing trends in decline of implementation of activities of the agency for the last four years, which prompted the board not to renew his contract in a May 27, 2019 board sitting.

In Mr Keefa Kiwanuka's letter, he accuses REA deputy executive director in charge of technical operations Godfrey Werikhe of failing to take remedial actions against irregularities, among which included falling and rotting poles within a short time of erection, transformer failures and faulty circuit breakers, among others.

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