UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | President Museveni was due to chair a meeting on Friday, February 2, 2022, to resolve disagreements regarding the development of a $40 million (approximately Shs147 billion) convention centre at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo.
However, it is unclear if the President’s meeting took place as planned.
The day before the scheduled meeting, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja held a readiness assessment meeting to update the President on the project’s progress. In attendance at that meeting were Works and Transport Minister Gen Katumba Wamala, Junior Finance minister Henry Musasizi, the Executive Director of the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) Patrick Birungi, and representatives from the Ministry of Trade. Mr. Ruparelia and his son, Rajiv Ruparelia, were also in attendance.
The government is financing the convention centre as a joint venture with Mr Ruparelia, and expectations are high regarding its delivery. The convention center is supposed to be fully functional before December to host the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, followed by the South Summit of the G77 and China.
Sources reported that 80% of the project finances have been released by the Treasury through UDC. However, Mr. Ruparelia reportedly expressed frustration at the slow release of funds during the meeting, which he says is hindering progress.
UDC, responsible for accounting for the funds, cited the need for caution to prevent government losses. Gen Katumba also mentioned the poor working relationship with the project developer, who he claims had locked out the ministry’s engineers evaluating the foundation’s structural integrity.
The readiness assessment meeting was expected to provide guidance to the President on the issues hindering progress on the convention center, which will include a 3,500-seat modern auditorium, a suspended restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria, and smaller conference rooms for the NAM summit.
Preparations for hosting the two summits began in 2019 when Uganda was endorsed as the NAM chair from 2022 to 2025. The government is hoping that the summits will help improve its image on the international stage.
The convention center project has been controversial, partly due to the past experience of Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo readiness to accommodate the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2007.
During discussions on the 2023-2024 budget framework paper, MPs accused Ministry of Finance officials of not investing in priorities to improve people’s livelihoods.
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