Boda- boda riders who paid money to Savannah Motors surround the houses where the company rented office space in Pamba.
Over 200 people in Soroti has lost millions of Shillings in a fraudulent motorcycle deal.
The victims were conned by Savannah Motors, which has been operating along Old- Mbale Road in Pamba Ward, Soroti City West Division for close to three months after securing a trading license from Soroti city authorities.
The company entered agreements with different individuals to supply Bajaj Motorcycles on credit after paying Shillings 500,000 as commitment fees from the borrower. In the agreement, a borrower would either choose to pay weekly deposits of Shillings 62,500 or Shillings 250,000 monthly for 24 months.
Information obtained by URN shows that most of the borrowers were expected to receive their motorcycles on Monday (October 4, 2021) but surprisingly, the offices at Pamba were closed over the weekend. The furious borrowers, who had travelled to Soroti to receive their motorcycles later stormed the office of the Resident City Commissioner, Peter Pex Paak, seeking his intervention into the matter.
But the company directors and all the staff at Savanna had long disappeared from the offices. Even their known telephone contacts and office lines 0393248465/0776001597/0740220465) were inaccessible.
URN has since learnt that the official lines that were provided are registered under Mukulu Yusuf and Stephen Wakimwere but are currently unavailable on the MTN network.
The affected borrowers say that they were betrayed by the local authorities in Soroti City and local radio stations that ran announcements and adverts, encouraging them to trust the company.
Boniface Eroju, a resident of Kalaki District says that there is connivance between the local leadership in Soroti and Savannah Motors. Eroju, who is a cyclist in Soroti says that he had no interest in the motorcycle deal with Savannah until he heard the adverts and announcements on Etop Radio.
Simon Epitu, a Boda- boda cyclist in Soroti faults the chairperson of Soroti Boda- boda association, Richard Oculi for luring members into entering the deal with Savannah Motors. Epitu said that Oculi was involved in the mobilization of riders on radio talk shows and other programs that made many people to trust the company.
When contacted, Oculi said that he was convinced that company was genuine after seeing the trading license issued by Soroti City authorities. Regina Akello, the Assistant Town Clerk of Soroti City West Division, says that they issued a license for motor vehicle spares to Savannah Motors not a credit facility for motorcycles.
“The person responsible for issuing licenses went for an assessment. We were told that the company was going to sell spare parts for motorcycles and that is where we based our assessment. It was shocking to learn that the company has been defrauding residents. It was an oversight on us, after issuing the license, we didn’t follow up with what the company was doing on the ground”, she said.
Oscar Greg Ageca, the East Kyoga Regional Police Spokesman, says that the police are investigating the circumstances that led to the collective loss of the said cash under vide GEF:29/2021.
“It’s alleged that Savannah motors under the stewardship and purported management of Labati Johnson of Sune Parish in Budaka District signed client agreements with various individuals within Teso sub-region to supply them with Bajaj Motorcycles upon Payments of prescribed fees. The motorcycles were to be delivered to clients on or before October 4, 2021, but savannah Motors has of the date of herein closed its offices located in Soroti City at Old Mbale Road, opposite Municipal Secondary school”, Ageca said in a statement.
He says that Labati was accused by one of the borrowers last week but when he appeared at CPS Soroti, he showed the agreement that indicated that the motorcycle would be delivered on October 4, 2021.
“At the time, the complainants couldn’t be helped because of the agreements. All the agreements were reading the same date for delivery. Unfortunately, by the time of delivery, the company had vanished from the ground”, he said.
Last year, there was a similar scheme targeting boda- boda riders at Television in Soroti that conned several riders of their hard-earned cash. By the time the authorities realized, the fraudsters had already packed their bags. Similar incidents have been recorded in Soroti over the years and cases recorded by police but no recovery of the lost cash.