Rwanda: 'Substandard' Ceramic Machinery Cost Taxpayers Rwf407 Million

17 September 2020

The Government has incurred Rwf407 million loss on equipment that fell short of requirements of a modern ceramic factory in Nyanza District because of poor planning by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA).

This issue caused discontent among members of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during a virtual public hearing on Thursday, September 17, 2020 in which officials from NIDRA were responding to mismanagement cases exposed in the Auditor General (AG)'s 2018/2019 report.

The AG's report revealed that the Nyanza Ceramic Community Processing Centre's construction and equipment cost NIRDA more than Rwf407 million.

It exposed that in the pursuit of putting this factory into use, NIRDA sold it without the buyer paying any proceeds towards investments made in buildings and equipment.

It indicated that the buyer paid only USD 100,000 (over Rwf88.6 million as per the exchange rate at the time) for land availed by Nyanza District.

The buyer, it said, claimed that purchased equipment did not meet the standard of a modern ceramic factory. Therefore, NIRDA incurred a loss of the investment in building and equipment due to poor planning.

"We need to know the underlying reason for this loss. There seems to be poor planning," said MP Christine Bakundufite.

Claire Mukeshimana, the Director-General of NIRDA, said that the equipment was given to potters in Nyanza.

"We admit the faults because the equipment did not achieve the intended results. We provided the equipment to members of Gatagara Pottery free of charge so that they help them improve their operations," she said.

"The potters were manually drying ceramic utensils such as cups. We hope that they will benefit from the equipment because it can automatically dry such utensils," she said.

Idle laboratory equipment and furniture

The audit also identified idle laboratory equipment and furniture worth more than Rwf1.4 billion kept at NIRDA laboratory located in Huye District.

These assets have been idle for a period ranging from 5 to 55 months. Accordingly, the government is not realising value for money from expenditure incurred from acquisition of these assets.

Mukeshimana replied that the factor that hindered the utilisation of the equipment is the delay in meeting the requirements and acquiring occupation permit.

"The testing of the equipment has started, methodology verification has also been done, and we expect that testing services can start being offered in December this year," she said.

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