Hunter Being Hunted! Parliament Summons IGG Beti Kamya Over Interference In UGX56Bn Roads Contracts

 Hunter Being Hunted! Parliament Summons IGG Beti Kamya Over Interference In UGX56Bn Roads Contracts

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Parliament has summoned the Inspector General of Government, Beti Kamya to explain circumstances under which she authored letters barring local governments of Mbarara City, Ntungamo Municipality and Kabale Municipality from cancelling problematic road contractors valued at over UGX56.719Bn.

The summons followed a testimony made by Santaro Byamugisha, Mayor of Kabale Municipality while appearing before Parliament’s Physical Infrastructure Committee. 

Byamugisha was appearing together with officials from Mbarara City and Ntungamo Municipality to update Parliament on the progress of World Bank funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) program that is set to end on 31st December 2023. The USMID road project funded by the World Bank is being implemented under the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Byamugisha informed the Committee that Multiplex Limited-Ditaco International Trade and Contracting JV was awarded a contract to construct roads in Kabale Municipality measuring 3.59Km. The construction works costing UGX21.722Bn were supposed to be completed within one year but the contract has been extended three times without the contractor being able to complete works.  

He informed the Committee that attempts to have the contract cancelled and have another firm procured were met with fierce opposition from the Contractor who ran to the Inspectorate of Government, High Court-Commercial Division and Equal Opportunities Commission, who all stopped the cancellation of the contract.

”The contractor went to the President and he wasn’t happy in fact we are being pressurised to extend the contracts which we didn’t agree on, and immediately, that is when the IGG’s letter came in directing us to stop charging liquidates damages and stop the termination of the contract without listening to us after that, we had the Equal Opportunities Commission, it also gave its judgement. As MPs, you over see these agencies, how does Equal Opportunities Commission involve itself in contract management? asked Byamugisha.

The Kabale Municipal Mayor also informed MPs that their powers have been usurped by the IGG, and instead of implementing the contract, they are now implementing directives.

”Our powers to manage these contracts were usurped, we are implementing directives, but we aren’t implementing the contract agreements that we signed between Kabale Municipal Council and Multiplex Limited which directives defy the legal regimes of contract management. Technocrats are paying a contractor whose contract expired irrespective of the Attorney General’s order clearly stating that the contract doesn’t exist. The Attorney General is the legal advisor of Government, where the IGG falls. These things can only happen in Uganda, and people are left to move freely as if nothing happened, in another country, I don’t think these things can happen” Byamugisha added.

This prompted Bughendera County MP, Acrobert Kiiza to ask the Committee to issue summons to the IGG remarking,

”Why I support the summoning of the IGG it is because when the contract was awarded, I remember the current IGG was the Minister of Lands. So, it is important that she is invited so we can hear from her, basing on what we are hearing now” Kiiza said.

Tony Awany, Vice Chairperson Physical Infrastructure Committee concurred with the proposal noting, that ”it is very important, we need to advise the IGG here to try help us understand these issues of communication that were coming from her office” Awany said.

Hilary Mugisha, City Engineer for Mbarara City expressed scepticism over Multiplex Ltd’s capacity to complete works by 31st December 2023. He informed the MPs that since award of the contract for 7.3kms of roads at a cost of UGX23.606Bn. Like it has been the case in other towns, this contractor has received four extensions hence being on the site for three years without completion.

Isaiah Tumwesigye, Town Clerk of Ntungamo Municipality also made similar lamentations about same contractor who has failed to complete works on 2.07kms UGX11.390Bn, but with just weeks to the closure of the project by World Bank, the contractor hasn’t delivered the project. 

 Additionally, Byamugisha blamed the project implementation delays on the Central Government which he accused on imposing on Local Governments some contractors that are preferred by top decision makers without ensuring they are capable of doing the job. 

”It is embarrassing, disappointing and puts our institution in shame. I used to have that belief in the IGG, but I don’t know whether I can go to the IGG with my complaint given what I have seen and it raises a lot of questions, he said”. 

He pleaded with Parliament to put an end to the practice of hybrid or cluster procurement, saying although the aim is geared towards building the capacity of the local contractors, experience has shown that the local firms have no capacity to undertake some works.

”We have never had any accountability for the advance payment the contractor received, in fact, we don’t know what the contractor was using the advance for. Help us end the clustering of contracts and we aren’t against the local content, but chew what you can swallow [because] our local contractors don’t have capacity. This cluster thing [form of procurement] is forced on us. Thus, hybrid issue, you procure a contractor at the Central Government level, you bring the contractor to be supervised by the local government and the first thing they ask you, ‘do you know how I got this job? Byamugisha wondered.

Dean Nuwenyesiga, Resident Engineer at Multiplex blamed the delays to complete works on the Covid-19 pandemic that came with imposition of lock down, as well as road sites being encumbered with water pipes and electric wires that had to be evacuated.

However, all these arguments were quashed by MPs who demanded the contractor to offer an apology and ensure that works are completed before the World Bank closes the project. 

Moses Bbosa, Managing Director of Multiplex Ltd unsuccessfully refused taking oath to commit to the completion of the works by 31st December 2023 saying his earlier statements before the Committee were enough. an accessible web community

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