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UN weapons stuck at Uganda – Congo border for over a month

Kampala. A cache of weapons and other cargo belonging to the UN have been held up at Vurra border with DR Congo for more than a month due to unpaid transport and customs fees.

Sources familiar with the matter told Daily Monitor that the impasse that has seen eight weapon-loaded trucks grounded at the border in Arua District of West Nile, about 345km north-west of Kampala, stems from millions of shillings owed to transporters and customs offices.

Sources said the delay in delivery of the weapons poses a security risk for both Uganda and DR Congo.
The multi-billion military consignment, sources say, also includes medical equipment, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and land rovers with the UN insignia.

This is confirmed by copies of manifests and agreements seen by this newspaper.
The military equipment which left Dungu in DR Congo on December 24, 2018, is destined for Agadir, a city on Morocco’s southern Atlantic coast via the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Daily Monitor was told that the removal of the equipment is part of a wider plan to scale back on the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) operations as the UN begins plans to end its largest peace keeping operation in the world.

More equipment is expected to be moved through Uganda to other destinations.
Connections to the UN are wide. Several contractors are involved and it is unclear at which level the money failed to reach the final group tasked with the actual transportation of the equipment.

Daher Technologies, a French industrial conglomerate working “in the aerospace, defence, nuclear, and automotive industrial sectors in the fields of manufacturing, services and transport” is the main contractor.

Daher subcontracted another company, STE Groupe Dirco Ltd based in Lubumbashi, Haut Katanga in DRC which in turn sought the services of KTG of Uganda.

KTG in turn subcontracted the Ugandan transporters who are now stuck with the cargo.
The UN authorities in Kampala asked Daily Monitor to furnish them with details of the subject to crosscheck and revert, but by press time, they had not responded.

“Please send me an email with your inquiry so we can verify the situation,” Ms Rosa Malango, the UN representative who was attending the World Wetlands Day in Pallisa District, said.

URA speaks out
This newspaper understands that Ugandan authorities, particularly the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have expressed willingness to escort the consignment to Uganda’s border with Tanzania.

The Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner for Customs, Mr Dickson Kateshumbwa, denied the UN consignment is being held at border for unsettled customs fees.

He said URA has nothing to do with the UN trucks and their contents.
“URA is not holding the trucks and contents therein,” Mr Kateshumbwa said yesterday.
The UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, said the equipment had been cleared.

“UPDF gave clearance for the transit of that equipment in question. It is now up to the UN to organise its movement with UPDF providing security escort,” Brig Karemire said.

Mr Jaffer Ssenfuka, a transporter, said on December 19, 2018, he was approached by a broker, one Moses, about a business deal to transport UN cargo from DR Congo to Kampala.

An agreement, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, was entered between KTG Africa Ltd represented by Mr Timothy Kyaligonza and Mr Jaffer Ssenfuka on the same day to transport the cargo from DRC to an unspecified place in Kampala.

The following day, trucks were dispatched from Kampala and reached four days later on December 24.
A freight rate of $3,500 inclusive of clearance fees for the complete route was to be paid per truck from DRC to Kampala. A down payment of $1500 per truck was made with $2,000 remaining outstanding.

Road cargo manifests issued to the drivers in DR Congo by MONUSCO indicated that the cargo was destined for Dar es Salaam and the drivers were required to sign on.

They made it through DR Congo to the Ugandan side and that’s where they have been stuck since.

By Daily Monitor

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