A few months ago, Uganda Airlines top management was suspended by Works and Transport Minister, General Edward Katumba Wamala on orders of President Yoweri Museveni.
Museveni suspended Cornwell Muleya, the Uganda Airlines CEO, Andrew Tumusiime, Senior Manager in charge of Administration and five other top officials including the Prez Ahabwe-led board over what he described as “corruption tendencies and mismanagement” of the airline.
It has now emerged that two of the suspended officials were pocketing US$10,000 (Shs35.55m going by the current exchange rate) as weekly ‘commission’ for awarding fuel supply contract to a company based in the Middle East.
According to our investigations, the kickback which was disguised as commission would be wired directly to the officials’ bank accounts through a foreign bank.
Uganda Airlines has been paying fuel in advance (for a month) to enable the supplier make refilling arrangements on time wherever the aircraft lands on the agreed airport across the world.
For example, Uganda Airlines paid fuel for July on June 26.
The prime beneficiaries of this scheme included a Ugandan airline pilot and business executive, who was among the the first officers to be recruited by Uganda Airlines and served as commercial pilot until his suspension last May.
The officials in question are serving a three-month suspension pending an investigation commissioned by President Museveni.
“The two officials were on Uganda Airlines Task Force that sourced service providers/suppliers,” our investigations reveal, adding that the duo had inflated fuel price per route.
“We found that Uganda Airlines was being charged higher than other Airlines by over $300 per flight and this money would be returned by the supplier plus the additional amount as a reward, totaling to US$10,000 weekly to the suspended Uganda Airlines officials,” sources privy to investigations have revealed.
Uganda Airlines pays approximately $300, 000 to the fuel company depending on the uplifts every week.
Sources said that the officials in new management have volunteered such information to a team of investigators from State House led by Brenda Wadri.
“The President is well aware of how this syndicate operated,” a source said.
It has also since emerged that the crisis at Julius Nyerere Airport in Tanzania in which it was reported that Uganda Airlines plane ran out of fuel and delayed for over one and half hours had been engineered by the clique conniving with Uganda Airlines station manager in Dar es Salaam.
The delay resulted from the new management’s decision to suspend advance payments to the fuel supplier from which the kickback would be sent to the beneficiaries.
“They decided to embarrass the national carrier because the acting management blocked this deal,” a source said, adding that whereas the delay lasted for one hour and 45 minutes, the detractors exaggerated that the plane was stuck for eight hours.
The new management is reviewing it’s MoU with the Fuel Supplier, with considerations to terminate the contract following the embarrassment on the cards.
It is understood that besides the two officials who were benefiting from the fuel deal, other senior managers were also eating big from other service providers.
“For example, one of the senior managers (name withheld) was receiving a good package from airport handler (name withheld),” the source said, adding: “He had negotiated something lucrative so that once Uganda Airlines pays this airport handler, he would also receive good money weekly,” a source said.
Sources say President Museveni is aware of all these schemes that had been going on in the Airline and that he won’t leave any stone unturned.
The three-month suspension of the top officials ends on August 21, 2021.
It’s understood that the State House report on the ‘mismanagement’ of the national carrier will have finalized by then to guide the President on the next course of action.
“Many of the suspended officials could end up in jail because there’s substantial evidence implicating them on mismanagement and corruption tendencies,” a source told this website on condition of anonymity.