Unra Mbarara Manager Pinned in Shs 1.4bn Fuel Fraud (allAfrica.com)

Unra Mbarara station engineer, Asaph Arinaitwe has admitted to entering into agreement with Shell Malindi to receive payments for suspicious fuel withdrawals from various up country pump fuel stations.

Arinaitwe made the confession while appearing before the Commission of Inquiry investigating into the affairs of Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.

It emerged that he used to draw more than 10,000 litres of fuel each month which was above the set credit limit. Documents before the Commission show that while credit was taken from Shell Stations in Mbarara, Ntungamo and Bushenyi, payment was made to Shell Malindi.

Arinaitwe said he entered into the credit arrangement with Shell Malindi, although it went against fuel card procedures laid down by Unra headquarters.

“The question is who downloaded fuel worth a tune of 30 million… , the next few days another 30 million, a few days 23 million, 26 million. Where were you putting this fuel if its in your opening balances as you have said, point it out because I haven’t seen it”, he was asked by one of the commissioners.

“I must go back to my earlier submission. If you look at this report, on April 21, this was probably the paying date and on April 30 this was creating an account because the month was ending and the fuel would be frozen”, Arinaitwe responded.

Commissioner Abraham Nkata put it to Arinaitwe that by withdrawing fuel on credit was contrary to the procedures of the fuel card usage and that he violated the PPDA Act.

“[The Commission] concludes that your committing Unra to procure fuel on credit was irregular if not illegal. Is that right?”

Arinaitwe said “It was done in good faith because we had to do work. It was not illegal because we would do it in anticipation that fuel for the following month would come and pay debt. And business entities would extend credit to us”.

Some of the documents before the Commission show that although some pump stations paid Shell Malindi millions of shillings, there was no evidence supporting the payments and fuel consumption.

At the time when the payments were made to Shell Malindi in Mbarara, both the Unra station there and weigh bridge were consuming fuel from Total Uganda. However, Eng Arinaitwe insisted that the payments by cards were in respect of the fuel got on credit using the fuel orders he issued.

The Commission has for the last three weeks been investigating Shell Uganda after it was singled out in connection to the loss of Shs 1.4bn in suspicious fuel consumption within a period of eight months.