KAMPALA: Orions Transformers and Electricals Ltd, a company that won a tender to supply 9m radio sets to government has never manufactured a single radio set before, dailypost uganda has Learnt.
Lawmakers on the Education and Sports Committee on Thursday questioned the capacity of Orions Transformers and Electricals Ltd to supply nine million radio sets which the government intends to distribute to homes to facilitate home learning.
With only candidates for primary and secondary education, and finalists for tertiary institutions and universities back to school after more than six months closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the learners in lower classes remain at home.
The Education ministry has continued to pass lessons through TV and radios whereas some self-help materials have been sent to homes in rural areas.
To sustain home learning using the radio, the government is seeking a Shs330b supplementary budget to procure the radio sets.
But the Member of Parliament (MPs) have been hesitant to approve the request which is part of the Shs6 trillion supplementary budget that is also expected to cover the early deficit to the 2020/2021 budget.
The MPs, who visited Orions Transformers and Electrics Ltd factory at Namanve in Mukono District, expressed dissatisfaction after finding out that it has never manufactured a radio set before and has only imported the samples sent to the government from China.
The committee chaired by Mr Amos Bugoloobi (Ntenjeru North) also questioned how the tender was handed over to the firm without following the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets procedures.
West Budama North MP Keneth Okoth Othieno said there was total disconnect between what they (MPs) saw and what the team from the Ministry of Education was telling them.
“First of all, they (ministry officials) were saying they went there and found that there is a company which is making radios but we did not find that. The company does not manufacture radios, they can only assemble them but even the assembling plant is not there,” Mr Othieno said.
At the time the MPs visited the factory, there were reportedly only two radio sets on display and they learnt that the firm imported them from China through DHL.
A look at the products displayed on the company website indicates that Orions Transformers and Electricals Ltd manufactures, electricity transformers, control boxes, power panels, switch boxes, generators and cables.
Our efforts to get a comment from the company were futile.
At least five million of the radio sets are expected to be delivered by this local company which had assured the Ministry of Education that it has a production capacity of 10,000 sets per day while the remaining four million radio sets are supposed to be imported.
Mr Charles Illukor, the Kumi County MP, described the situation the committee found at the factory as appalling, saying the Ministry of Education will be put to task to explain whether it has another work to use the money for.
“We cannot say there is a plant that can manufacture radios. There is only one plant which was assembling speakers. The whole thing does not add up,” he said.
The MPs suggested as they have been saying during previous committee meetings that there is need for the government to save the money meant for the radios and use it to prepare the schools to re-open for all learners next year. They also vowed to block the Shs330b from the supplementary budget when they write their report.