Makerere University has been slammed by a section of students and Ugandans for importing graduation gowns from China.
According to reports by the Observer, the university received from China the first batch of graduation gowns for the 70th graduation ceremony scheduled for next week.
The university authorities confirmed the arrival of 7,000 graduation gowns out of the more than 13,000 required for the 13,509 graduands. The academic registrar Alfred Masikye Namoah in a report to the university ceremonies committee today, confirmed the arrival of the gowns.
According to reports, Team Uniform Limited, the firm contracted to exclusively supply the patented graduation gowns opted to tailor and import the graduation gowns from China following frustrations by local suppliers and intrigue within the university.
Makerere vice-chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe had previously expressed concern at the customs officials who were delaying to release the gowns from Entebbe airport.
Masikye has now instructed all college and school registrars to report to the central stores to collect the gowns for the graduands in their respective colleges. To avoid commotion, the gowns are to be distributed to all graduands at their respective colleges.
Dr Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, the acting Makerere University communications and International relations manager, saying the distribution of the first batch will start effectively tomorrow Thursday, January 9. Sources privy to the graduation planning committee have reported internal intrigue that blocked the timely procurement and issuance of the gowns.
Team Uniform which has had its own supply challenges has written several letters to the officials in charge of the ceremonies complaining over non-payment for graduation gowns introduced in 2017. Ahead of the 67th graduation ceremony in 2017, the customized gowns run out of supply, with the contractor only managing to supply about 7,000 gowns out of the 14,000 that were needed.
The institution in 2018 adopted a mandatory fee of Shs 98,000 paid by all students for the patented graduation gown. Going by the number of graduands this year, the university collected at least Shs 1.3bn from students for the gowns. Unlike in previous years, students are expected to only use the exclusive and specially designed Makerere gown at the graduation ceremony.
Each year, Makerere University spends about Shs 770 million as graduation costs. The delays in procurement and payment of the contractor are contained in a report of the 69th graduation ceremony. According to the May 2019 report, Makerere experienced challenges last year in issuing the gowns and hoods despite early distribution. As opposed to the current dilemma, the exercise in the last graduation commenced in December through early January.
“The service provider reported experiencing challenges in securing his payment indicating that he had produced over 10,000 gowns without advance payment. He explained delays in the production and distribution of hoods and the resultant commotion in these delays. This payment should not go to the consolidated funds since it belongs to a business,” says the graduation ceremony report.
Graduands who started reporting to the institution have been receiving only invitation cards and car stickers. The institution says it will start issuing graduation booklets tomorrow. The first students to graduate in the 4-day event on January 14 are students from the colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Natural Sciences, Education and External Studies and Health Sciences.
One unhappy Ugandan by the name Wooden K noted ” Year 2020, and Uganda cannot produce such simple graduation gowns for the bazzukulu –.and yet H.E The President is out there loitering and telling expired stories. All the way from China ! Why not from Congo? I am sure the tailor who makes Kofi Olamide`s weirdo outfits can get the job done.
Someone is surely eating a lot of money on this stupid deal. But who is going to stop this kind of shit if BoUganda top managers were found to be horribly incompetent but they all got to keep their jobs?
We need a new Uganda Before we start importing coffins from China.”
Imagine a whole institution like Makerere lacking mere gowns, no surprise they had to run China.”