The local firm being fronted by the Education and Sports Ministry to supply Ugandan homesteads with radio sets mainly deals in assembling transformers and woofers, Parliament has learnt.
This became apparent when a due diligence team from the Budget Committee visited Orion Transformers and Electrics Limited in Namanve Industrial Park on Thursday afternoon to ascertain its capacity to deliver the radio sets as claimed.
The lawmakers found two radio samples at the company’s plant in Namanve which had however been imported from China via DHL, an international courier company.
The said company was launched on June 6 by President Yoweri Museveni at a pompous event at which he commissioned a total of seven factories at the Namanve Industrial Park.
The Company has been earmarked to benefit from the contract for the supply of nine million radio sets to Ugandan homes valued at Shs 336.8 billion to facilitate the long distance learning program because of the lockdown.
According to Ministry of Education, Orion Transformers and Electrics Limited is expected to supply 5 million radio sets valued at Shs 33,000 each while the remaining 4 million radio sets will be imported at Shs 42,000 each.
Shortly after touring the premises of Orion Transformers and Electrics Limited, the West Budama North MP, Okoth Othieno questioned how the Education Ministry arrived at the market value of the radio sets from the company that has no single radio set on the Ugandan market.
“There is a total disconnect between what we saw and what the team from Ministry of Education was telling us. First of all, they were saying that they went there and found that there is a company, which is making radios…We didn’t find that. The company doesn’t manufacture radios, they can only assemble but even the assembly plant is not there,” Othieno said.
Othieno further questioned how a company dealing in assembling transformers and woofers is being fronted to supply radios.
Kumi County MP Charles Illukor, raised doubts about the company’s capacity to assemble radio receivers much less manufacture them. According to Illukor, the company said it can set up a plant within three months after securing the contract but said even this assurance raises a lot of doubts given what is on ground and enormity of the task at hand.
Charles Ngabirano, the Rwampara County MP notes that there is no way the company can supply radio sets in a few months given the expertise they found at the plant.
The MPs unanimously agreed that the company cannot supply radio sets in the short-run and therefore doesn’t deserve to be awarded the contract for the emergency supply of radios.
According to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) website, Orion Transformers and Electrics Limited was registered on May 14th, 2013 with its core operational area being supplies. The proprietors of the company are Haiwei Zhu (Chinese), Asa Mugenyi (Ugandan) and Aspire Investments (Mauritanian).
In June, President Yoweri Museveni announced that government would distribute free radio sets to aid learning at home following the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak.