Shock as Kasaija Gives Land to Troubled Lubowa Hospital Contractor for Coffee Processing

Enrica Pinetti, a controversial businesswoman, who took the lead in the Lubowa International Specialised Hospital saga, has yet again received huge chunks of public land to build a coffee processing factory.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on Thursday said he had, on behalf of the government of Uganda, signed a “project implementation agreement with the Board Chairman of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited Ms Enrica Pinetti to establish a Coffee processing plant at Kampala Industrial and Business Park,Namanve.”

Kasaija said the coffee plant was expected to process 60,000 tonnes of coffee per annum at full capacity, but would start with processing 27,000 tonnes.

“The company is expected to create 246 jobs for employees and skilled laborers,” said kasaija, who applauded what he described as “the coffee value addition project.”

It remains unclear why the government is providing more public resources to Pinette when she has failed to deliver on the Lubowa hospital.

Contacted, Finance Ministry publicist, Apollo Mughinda said he was not “privy to the details of this matter.”

It will be recalled that in 2019, Parliament approved a guarantee of USD 379 million (1.4 trillion Shillings) for the construction of the Lubowa hospital.

The facility with a 264-bed specialized Healthcare capacity would be operated as a world-class internationally accredited facility to treat conditions for which Ugandans have been traveling abroad.

The conditions included cancer treatment, heart diseases, organ transplant, fertility treatment, highly specialized surgeries, and bone marrow transplant, among others.

@MatiaK5 : “This project is crucial and will help coffee farmers get better prices. Middlemen have been taking much of our money.We will earn more money from our sweat.” Construction will commence within one year. pic.twitter.com/qQNzmX9dmI

— Ministry of Finance (@mofpedU) February 10, 2022

The government sought authorization of parliament for the project following a proposal by the Italian investors Finasi Roko Construction SPV Limited, a major member of the FINASI-Roko consortium, an entity which specializes in the construction of turnkey health care facilities.

Interestingly, sources allege, Pinette diverted the funds from construction of the much-needed hospital to setting up a private coffee processing factory in Namanve.

This triggered a conflict between Pinette and Roko construction company whose profile she had used to obtain the public funds to construct the hospital.

Pinette disagreed with Roko on who would execute the civil works at the hospital.

Supported by Finance Ministry officials, Pinnetti was able to evict Roko from the site and replace it with Power Guizhou Engineering Co. Ltd, a Chinese construction firm.

Yet, Roko was the government-approved contractor for the project while FINASI was the equipment supplier.

Roko had refused to reduce its construction bill, saying such a move would compromise the quality of civil works and damage their hard-earned reputation.

Three years down the road, the Lubowa hospital construction site is gathering dust with no civil works being undertaken at the facility.

Finasi, founded in the early 1970s is an Importer/Exporter and primary goods and trader in the Middle East and Africa.

Civil works at Lubowa hospital have stalled for the last two years
Artistic impression of the Lubowa hospital

The organisation has deep contacts in the Vatican and works closely with President Museveni’s office to attract foreign investors.

In the 2016 general elections, Pinetti helped the ruling National Ruling Movement (NRM) to mobilise support in Rome to successfully counter then presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi who was wooing the support of the Vatican.

In May 2021, the project developer indicated that civil works were derailed by COVID-19, heavy rains, and cash flow issues, compelling Health Minister Ruth Aceng to extend the deadline by 15 more months.

Aceng told the parliamentary health committee that on February 10, 2020, the project owner Eng. George Otim revised the works program and approved an extension of three months because of bad weather conditions in the Lubowa area caused by high rainfall.

Another extension of 12 months was sought in addition to the three months due to the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.

“The project duration currently signed and approved is 39 months, the lapse duration is 689 days. The project finish date is 9th September 2022,” said Aceng last year.

The post Shock as Kasaija Gives Land to Troubled Lubowa Hospital Contractor for Coffee Processing first appeared on ChimpReports.

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