Moses Mapesa, the former executive director of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has defended the performance of the Protected Areas Management and Sustainable Use (PAMSU) project, saying he is satisfied that there was value-for-money.
Appearing for the second time before the retired judge George Kanyeihamba-chaired commission of inquiry into the 100-billion-shilling project, Mapesa said in his opinion no money that went to UWA for the project activities got lost.
Mapesa said to the contrary, all the monies were used for the intended purposes except in a few cases where there were modifications or relocation of project activities.
PAMSU was a 10-year World bank-funded project aimed at boosting tourism in Uganda.
The former executive director was reacting to a report by UWA’s disbanded board chaired by Boysier Muballe that claimed in a report that Uganda’s tourism sector has low revenue, poor infrastructure and unexposed personnel, among others.
Mapesa, who was forcefully removed from office mid last year by the same baord, said due to the project, local tourism revenue increased from 20 percent in 2002 to 80 percent presently.
He said by the time he became UWA’s executive director, the organization had saved just one million dollars compared to 10 billion dollars when he left office.
Mapesa said UWA conducted a string of capacity building training and exchange visits for the staff making them relatively exposed.He also defended the road network in the conservation areas saying compared to Tanzania and Kenya the roads are fairly good.
Mapesa said he cannot expect kind words from a board he took to court and which was subsequently disbanded.
But Mapesa faced tough questioning from the commissioners on a number of issues.
The commissioners wondered why he seemed to have sidelined the board in making key decisions like modififying the original PAMSU contract agreements and signing activity agreements.
This stemmed from complaints from former board members who said the executive director literally and effectively sidelined them contrary to the provisions of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Act.
He admitted that while he and the World Bank did most of the alterations, the projects plans and budgets were approved by the board.
Mapesa was also put under the spotlight for shifting the building of office and staff houses worth 1.3 billion shillings from Kibale national park to Semliki wildlife reserve.
He explained that they built the houses in Semliki wildlife reserve because it literally had no infrastructure compared to Kibale national park. He added that in any case Semliki wildlife reserve is under the Kibale conservation area.
This answer drew the wrath of Justice Kanyeihamba who rebuked Mapesa saying his actions were a sad episode in the management of UWA, adding that public affairs must not be run like that.
Kanyeihamba said it is very dangerous for any public official to act outside the regime of the law for they could be made to face the wrath of the law.