Uganda investigates whereabouts of vehicles used in 2015 papal visit

ARU, Congo — Authorities in Uganda are investigating the whereabouts and the cost of the special vehicles used to transport Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to the country.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives in a Mitsubishi L200 pickup truck for a meeting with young people in 2015 at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala, Uganda. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament Oct. 18 quizzed officials from the office of President Yoweri Museveni about the vehicles.

The investigation stems from queries raised by the country’s auditor general in a report of finances covering the 2015-2016 period.

Members of parliament were irked to learn that the two vehicles, a Kia Soul hatchback and a Mitsubishi L200 pickup truck, which were purchased at $35,940 and $50,631, respectively, went missing at the time of the audit.

“We want an explanation about the inflated cost of the vehicles,” said Gerald Karuhanga, a member of parliament. “We are also interested in knowing where the vehicles are at the moment.”

However, Willis Bashasha, acting permanent secretary in the office of the president, told the committee that whereas at the time of the audit there was no physical presence of the cars, the vehicles had been parked at the Ministry of Works and not president’s office.

He said the vehicles are available and in good condition, forming part of the pool of vehicles currently used by the president’s office.

Parliament members pressed their concerns and said they planned to investigate the cost of the vehicles by visiting car dealers and other locales.

Pope Francis is expected to return to Uganda in 2019 to address bishops from across Africa.