By Spy Uganda
Kampala: The Parliamentary Commission In July, 2020 received a contradictory status report from ROKO Construction Company Ltd, the contractors of the new Parliamentary chambers, something that sparked-off anger from Speaker Rebecca Kadaga with a section of Parliamentary Commissioners including Leader of Opposition (LOP) Betty Aol Ocan, Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye and Central PWD Representative Safia Nalule.
This was in their second onsite visit in a space of two months amidst dis-satisfactory remarks on the progress of the construction works of Shillings 206 billion project started in August 2017 which was expected to be completed by 27th July 2020.
However, Roko, which had been scheduled to have completed nine floors of the Parliament expansion, had only managed a dismal 3 floors. Worse still, even those floors had not been delivered to satisfaction something that left many Parliamentarians wondering how once the leading construction company turned to be a poor service delivery most Ugandans have drawn into loopholes.
It should be noted that Parliamentary chamber’s is not the only poorly and delayed to be completed but also the Aga Khan Hospital construction site which Roko was supposed to have completed by the start of January 2020, there had been zero progress on the site and on top of that, the company directors chopped all the money and failed to pay its own subcontractors and in a bid to defend its reputation, Aga Khan had no any other choice other than paying these subcontractors although they had cleared the payment to their bosses.
According to a source who alleges to have worked for Roko on various sites, the root cause of all that is leading to complaints from various company’s clients is because of the inconsistency and lack of materials, failure to pay workers among other challenges that is likely to be the reason for the collapse of the company.
Another source said, “Unless they accept the offer on the table from Dott Services. Dott had approached them to bail them out. The view is that Dott would concentrate on the roads while Roko would continue with the structures. That too however would be Dott’s worst blunder. Because there’s no more Roko to buy. It’s all gone.”
TheSpy Uganda has learnt that towards the end of last month, Roko’s directors met to let go of one of their own and in the meeting an angry heart-broken and teary Brigitte Koehler stood up on her feet and announced; “Willie you have to go. We are here because of you. You came to take us to greatness, you have left us in the grave. But if letting you go is the last chance at saving Roko, we must give it a shot.” something that sounded that Willie Swanepoel had been the biggest threat to the company hence its swift backslide.
After the meeting a staff was recorded outside saying, “Willie played like a mafia who had been involved in many construction battles. He could wake up and stop a project claiming non-payment or some other excuses. For all the projects, like Parliament, he’d already been paid upfront for no work done.”
We have since learned that Roko has been blacklisted by the biggest of companies in Uganda where a couple of government ministries were put on notice never to invite Roko for any bidding process noting the Ministry of Finance which made it clear that Roko and government tenders should never mix and due to this blacklist, its alleged that it’s why the company made a donation to the Ministry of Health during COVID-19 in a bid to regain publicity and recommend its relationship with Government.
We’ve also learned that in a bid to save the little that’s left of it, Roko has chosen to downsize and hope to remain with a number they can manage. “It’s not about the bloated payroll. It’s about the money clients gave to Roko that ended up being pulled out. I can’t tell where all the money went. But it’s like you had this big hole where you kept pouring money hoping it would fill up. The more payments they received, the more money they pulled out of the business. You can’t play Russian roulette in a construction business,” our source reveals.
Roko has struggled to deliver the Namanve Data centre that was slated for completion in June. “There’s no single project that Roko has completed in Uganda this year. It’s out. It’s in the evening of its days. It was once the beacon of excellence, now it’s no more,” another source reflects on the times.
What is It That’s ‘Eating Up’ Roko Construction Company?
Roko Construction Company Limited, but commonly referred to as ROKO, is a civil engineering and construction company in Uganda, that was founded in 1969 by the late Max Rohrer and the late Rainer Kohler (1931-2013), both natives of Switzerland.
Earlier this month, the once giant construction company was dragged to Commercial division of High court over failure to clear the accumulated sums of money rising from the paint they supplied to various construction sites of Imperial mall and Namugongo martyrs shrine worth 336 million.
According to the suit, Specialized Coating Uganda Limited supplied paint and other related equipment as agreed. However, Roko has not paid as stated in the contract and this has prompted the High Court registrar to summon the construction company.
Specialized Coating Uganda Limited claims that they have served Roko with various notices reminding them of their obligations as per the contract invain, that they’ve never responded. They therefore want the court to compel the construction company to pay the outstanding shs336 million.
Roko has therefore been given two weeks to defend itself before court and failure to do so, it will deliver its judgment based on evidence and submissions made by the complainant. Watch the space….