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Ministry Transport Officers Handed Over to Police for Alleged Involvement in 357 Million Shilling Fuel Card Forgery

Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary, Geraldine Ssali.

Three transport officers from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives have been handed over to the police for their alleged involvement in a fuel card forgery scam, resulting in a staggering loss of 357 million shillings through fuel swaps. The decision to take this action was made after irregular multiple withdrawals of fuel at the Bukoto Total Energy station were flagged on July 30, 2022.

Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Industry, and Tourism, Mwine Mpaka, expressed deep concern over the misuse of government funds and confirmed the development. “The irregular withdrawal of fuel and the subsequent loss of public funds is unacceptable. We take this matter seriously and have handed over the three officers to the police for further investigation,” stated Mwine.

During a committee meeting held on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Geraldine Ssali Busulwa, shed light on the expenses for transporting Ministry documents from Farmers House in Kampala to Entebbe, clarifying that they amounted to 59.3 million shillings. This revelation contradicted earlier allegations of 400 million shillings being involved in the transportation.

However, the meeting also uncovered another alarming issue – some Ministry staff have been receiving more fuel than the ministers themselves, raising serious concerns about mismanagement of fuel within the Ministry. In a surprising twist, Ssali also discovered that some ministers were not receiving their monthly fuel entitlements.

According to documents presented by Ssali, Senior Minister Francis Mwebesa had received fuel worth 39 million shillings, State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabazi received 59.2 million shillings, State Minister for Industry David Bahati received 41.9 million shillings, and State Minister for Cooperatives Fred Ngobi Gume received 43 million shillings. Ssali assured the public that this issue would be promptly addressed to ensure fairness and transparency in the distribution of fuel.

The forgery of fuel cards has sparked a heated debate within the committee, with officers at the Ministry pointing fingers at each other, each denying their involvement in the fraudulent scheme. According to official documents, the 357 million shillings were withdrawn at Bukoto Total Energy using fuel cards belonging to the three officers in question, who were only entitled to 500,000 shillings worth of fuel per month.

Representatives from Total Energy defended their position, stating that some clients had chosen to withdraw money instead of fuel at their stations, adding a new dimension to the ongoing investigation.

As the police commence their probe, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives faces increased scrutiny to address the mismanagement of fuel and ensure accountability within its ranks. The nation eagerly awaits the outcome of the investigation, hoping for justice to be served and the recovery of the lost public funds.

The Black Examiner®.

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