Moi era Ugandan contractor falls on hard times

Ugandan constructor James Abiam Mugoya Isabiyre

Mr Mugoya became the ultimate cowboy tendrepreneur making billions of shillings from road constructions which were often clinched through single-sourced tenders during the regime of former president Moi

By The Weekly Vision Online

Former Moi era Ugandan constructor James Abiam Mugoya Isabiyre has watched his vast fortune come down crumbling like a house of cards, a fugitive in both Kenya and Uganda. Mr Mugoya became a household name in Kenya during the administration of the late president Daniel Moi, he even had an estate in South B, Nairobi named after him.

Mr Mugoya of today is a pale shadow of his former self, facing a wide-ranging fraud case in Nairobi and Kampala and is now on the run. A Nairobi court charged him with a fraudulent disposition of mortgaged goods. The “politically correct” tycoon of the 1980s owed his vast wealth to his friendship with Moi’s son Gideon while studying civil engineering at the University of Nairobi.

Mr Mugoya lost political clout long ago, he now faces charges of trying to defraud Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) by removing mortgaged construction machines worth KSh3.5b without the consent of the mortgagee

Mr Mugoya became the ultimate cowboy tendrepreneur making billions of shillings from road constructions which were often clinched through single-sourced tenders during the regime of former president Moi. You crossed his path at your peril. He is said to have banked and invested billions in joint ventures with the Moi family. But something went seriously wrong as his political benefactor Moi prepared to step down in 2002. Mr Moi is said to have sent Mugoya to purchase hundreds of arable lands in Uganda’s pineapple-rich Namayemba area where the Kenyan leader is rumoured to have considered settling, it’s said Mugoya never delivered.

Mr Mugoya lost political clout long ago, he now faces charges of trying to defraud Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) by removing mortgaged construction machines worth KSh3.5b without the consent of the mortgagee.

In his heydays, Mr Mugoya had easy access to State House in Nairobi. His Mugoya Construction Company won lucrative contracts, the ultra-modern buildings Mugoya put up include Kabarak University and Kabarak High School complex, 36 storied Times Tower, the National Social Security Fund building, Hazina Estate and the Kisumu Provincial Headquarters.

Although immensely rich, Mugoya was averse to ostentatious living preferring simple but decent clothes and driving in simple cars. His favourite was an aged Peugeot 505 registration series KAB. He was so elusive that for long, media houses in Kenya and Uganda failed to get his photos.

Mr Mugoya suffered another setback when his company, together with six others, were blacklisted and asked to refund Ksh.308m by a ministerial committee that was set up by then roads minister former PM, Raila Odinga

Hard times set in for the Ugandan tycoon after the NARC government of Mwai Kibaki came to power in January 2003. With just a few days into power, the NARC government cancelled two road contracts that Mugoya Construction Company had been awarded under the Moi regime.

Mr Mugoya suffered another setback when his company, together with six others, were blacklisted and asked to refund Ksh.308m by a ministerial committee that was set up by then roads minister former PM, Raila Odinga.

KCB has since put Mugoya’s firm under receivership, claiming over Ksh3b, having appointed Adrian Spencer as receiver-manager to pursue the debt. The bank staff moved into the company’s Embakasi premises and stripped it bare. All stock in trade and all movable assets were also confiscated.

Police in Kenya placed an advertisement in a local media wanting any person with information as to Mugoya’s whereabouts to contact the police. A generous award awaited anybody with information leading to his whereabouts and arrest. That announcement yielded fruits when Mugoya was arrested in Nairobi.

As Mugoya was nabbed in Nairobi, the Ugandan government made it known that he was expected to answer other charges back home. Mugoya is wanted in Uganda for allegedly giving a $340,000 bribe to the former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) managing director, Leonard Mpuuma, to influence the award of a contract to him.

Uganda had expected Kenya to extradite Mugoya now aged 71, to face the law in Uganda as well. He was out on bond before mysteriously vanishing from Kenya and later spotted in Iganga, Uganda. He has since gone into hiding play cat and mouse games with Kenya and Uganda police. Some of the projects Mugoya undertook in Uganda include the Kyambogo new examination headquarters, Entebbe International Airport, and the Civil Aviation Authority.

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