Parliamentarians with pending election petitions demand for vehicles cash

37 members of parliament with pending election petitions in the Court of Appeal are pushing for the release of their vehicle cash. The MPs have petitioned the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga demanding the release of their money. Each MP in the 10th parliament is entitled to Shillings 150 million for the purchase of a vehicle to facilitate their movement in the constituency. On October 11, 2016, parliament disbursed Shillings 43.2 billion to the law makers to procure vehicles.

Each MP received Shillings 100 million on their personal bank accounts. Earlier on, the Parliamentary Commission resolved not to disburse money to all legislators with election petitions until they are cleared by court to avoid cases where parliament is forced to release more cash once such a legislator is kicked out by court and replaced by another person. However, in their January 12, 2017 petition to the speaker, the petitioners demand for the release of their vehicle cash.

“We the under signed members of the 10th Parliament of Uganda, hereby log in a petition to your attention and the entire Parliamentary Commission over a matter of failure to transfer funds for purchase of vehicles as duly assigned”, reads the petition seen by URN. Adding that, “It’s also clear that half of the Members of Parliament who still have pending court appeals have been paid.”

They also claim that ex officials who are already provided for by their sector dockets and do not represent any constituency have been paid the vehicle money. They question the criteria used to pay out the vehicle cash. “Rt Hon Speaker, it should be noted among members who lost their cases at High Court and now in Court of Appeal; some have been paid whereas others have, the same applies to that won cases at high court and were appealed against. Therefore we are puzzled on the criterion of selection”, they said.

Peter Ogwang, the Usuk County Member of parliament who also doubles as Parliamentary Commissioner, says parliament used different approaches to arrive at, which MP receives the vehicle cash first. “We began with the new MPs following alphabetical order because some of the new MPs were facing transport challenges. The other MPs will also be catered for because the money is available”, Ogwang said.

He also confirmed that some of the MPs facing election petitions have received the vehicle. They asked the Speaker to authorize the transfer of funds meant for purchase of vehicles to their respective accounts so as to enable them acquire the vehicles like any other member of the 10th parliament. “We pray that you resist any attempts by any authority wishing to detract you from effecting these payments as this has direct bearing on the performance of the 10th parliament and precedent for future challenges against any member of parliament,” they said.

Chris Obore, the Director of Communication and Public Relations in Parliament, told URN that the Parliamentary Commission halted the payment following public complaints. “Some few MPs with petitions had earlier received cash as was the case with the previous Parliaments. But their payment elicited complaints forcing the Commission to review the matter. The Commission will examine the petition of unpaid MPs with Court cases and make a decision”, Obore said.

He confirmed that two or three MPs with election petitions have received the vehicle money. Patrick Okabe, the Serere County MP is one of the legislators battling a petition in Soroti High Court for alleged lack of academic papers. “We can’t wait forever for the court cases to be disposed of yet we are still having the mandate of our people who badly need us to serve them. How do they expect us to travel to our constituencies?” he said.

 

 

-URN

Apple unmasks plans to have self drive cars

In a letter to US transport regulators, Apple said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”.

It added that there were “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles” to be realised.

There have long been rumours about the firm’s plans but it has not publicly admitted them.

However, Ford, which itself plans to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021, has said it was working on the basis that Apple was building one.

The tech firm has already registered several car-related internet domains, including apple.car and apple.auto.

Sharing data

A company spokesman for Apple said that the letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was prompted by its “heavy investment in machine learning and autonomous systems” and that it wanted to help define best practices in the industry.

The five-page letter, written by Apple’s director of product integrity Steve Kenner, urges the regulator to not introduce too many rules on the testing of self-driving cars, saying that “established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally.”

It also proposes that companies in the industry share data from crashes and near-misses in order to build a more comprehensive picture than one company could manage alone, and therefore enable the design of better systems.

However, it adds that an individual’s privacy should not be compromised by the sharing of such data. It suggests that the industry and regulators “address privacy challenges associated with the collection, use, and sharing of automated vehicle data”, with collaboration from privacy experts outside the automotive industry.

Google is already testing self-driving cars on the roads. In October, electric carmaker Tesla announced that all the cars it now builds will have the hardware installed to drive on their own.

In the UK, an autonomous vehicle was test-driven in Milton Keynes in the summer, with further trials in London planned.

 

 

 

-BBC

Budget allocation for MPs’ cars raises from 38.6 Bn in ninth Parliament to 64Bn in the tenth

Parliament will spend over 64 billion Shillings on the purchase of vehicles for the members of the Tenth parliament. Each of the 427 Members of Parliament will receive an allocation of 150 million Shillings, according to a budget outline by the Parliamentary Commission.

The figure is up from the 38.6 billion Shillings spent on vehicles in the Ninth parliament which had a total of 375 members. Each vehicle for Members of the ninth parliament cost 103 million Shillings.

Chris Obore, the director of information at Parliament, said the funds will be released regardless of ongoing petitions against some members.

Initial reports indicated that the money would be held until courts dispose off all electoral petitions. Up to 118 petitions were filed against Members of Parliament in the aftermath of the 2016 parliamentary election.

But Obore told URN that parliament cannot deny legislators their benefits because of pending petitions.

“We shall give the MPs what is due to them. We can’t stop paying MPs money for vehicles and other emoluments because of petitions in court”, Obore said.

On the likely loss to be met by the tax payer when an MP who has already received money for vehicle loses a seat, Obore said that the duty of the parliamentary commission is to take care of the welfare of MPs and staff to parliament and that only a law can enable the commission to reduce loses and recover vehicles once an MP loses a seat.

Obore added that Ipads will be given to every MP who is on the Clerk’s record in two weeks’ time regardless whether they have election petitions against them or not.

Amolatar Woman MP, Doreen Ruth Amule said that the delayed payment of the vehicle allowance is stressing to the new MPs who have not had cars before since they have no means of transport.

-URN

Luweero district officials accused of misusing government cars

The Auditor General has faulted Luweero district for misuse of government vehicles.

The district owns 20 pickups, 9 heavy load vehicles, 170 motorcycles and 60 bicycles. However, the 2014/15 audit report released by the Auditor General recently faults the district administration for lacking policies to control and manage the fleet.

The report reveals that workers in Luweero were driving the pool service government vehicles during weekends, beyond official working hours and outside the district without movement orders from the Chief Administrative Officer.

Public service standing orders stipulate that use of pool service vehicles must be managed by accounting officers from the various ministries and local governments who have to provide a movement order for any vehicle that may be used beyond mandatory time.

Use of such government vehicles is restricted to 8am to 5pm daily. The standing orders advise officers with government pool cars in their custody beyond the mandatory time to park them at the nearest police stations for safe custody.

But the vehicles are often seen parked at bars in the night while others are used to transport charcoal, firewood and water, a confirmation that the procedures are never followed in Luweero.

The report adds that the district has no records on monthly fuel consumption, servicing or repairs and other information about the state of vehicles in contravention of Uganda Servicing Standing Orders.

The Auditor General John Muwanga directed the district’s Chief Administrative Officer Eustace Gakwandi to enforce the guidelines in order to reduce expenses on unplanned maintenance. URN has learnt that the district spends 35 million Shillings annually on general repairs of pickups and trucks.

Fredrick Kyeyune a resident in Kavule zone in Luweero town council asked the CAO to issue  stringent measures and direct police to impound district vehicles if found in use beyond working hours.

But civil servants who preferred anonymity say that some assignments stretch beyond official working hours or days yet they need cars to execute them. They however admitted that they were not seeking movement orders from the office of the CAO.

When reached, Eustace Gakwandi the Luweero chief Administrative said that he was not aware of the misuse but undertook to take action after the receiving the report.

-URN