Makerere University has finally secured 7000 of the more than 13,000 gowns required for the 70th graduation ceremonies scheduled for next week.
With just days to the ceremony, the Ceremonies Committee received a report from the Academic Registrar, Alfred Masikye Namoah in a crisis meeting this morning about the arrival of the consignment from China.
In a January 8th, 2020, letter to all College and School Registrars, Masikye instructed registrars to report to the central stores to collect the gowns for the respective graduands in their respective colleges.
To avoid commotion, the gowns are to be distributed to all graduands at their respective colleges, according to sources that attended the meeting. The information was corroborated by Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, the acting Makerere University Communications and International Relations Manager, saying the distribution of the first batch will start effectively Thursday January 9.
When asked why the gowns are coming from China and not within the country, Dr. Kiggundu referred this reporter to the supplier. Sources privy to the graduation planning committees have reported internal intrigues that blocked the timely procurement and issuance of the gowns.
In our previous reports, URN had established that the contractor Team Uniform Limited had written several letters to the officials in charge of the Ceremonies complaining over non-payment of arrears and that there is no communication as to when payments will be made.
The company was contracted to solely supply the patented Makerere University Graduation gowns getting snappy over non-payments. The institution in 2018 adopted a mandatory fee of Shillings 98,000 paid by all students for a patented University Gown. Unlike previous years, students are expected to only use the exclusive Makerere University Graduation gown.
Each year, Makerere University spends approximately Shillings 770 million as graduation costs. The same 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 an advance payment. He explained delays in 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 Thursday.