Residents in Buyende district are up in arms, accusing Ministry of Works of hiring a bogus contractor who did shoddy works for a 2.8km road construction in the town council.
A petition to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja says the road works are far below road construction standards in Uganda, on top of the fact the contractor was awarded the deal without going through proper procurement procedures.
The ministry of works offered to tarmac the 2.8km road in Buyende town council, one of the pledges by President Museveni in the district.
The contract, according to a residents’ petition, was awarded to Ms. Rukonge Enterprises Limited, at a tune of more than ugx2.8 billion. However, the road that has been handed over is below what was expected.
Now, residents say, the road which has been submitted is of poor quality and want Premier Robinah Nabbanja to bring to book the contractor and Ministry of Works officials overseeing the project. They also want to contract immediately terminated.
The contract in question was supposed to cover Mugweri, Malikowa, Council lane, and Mayendo, and money was fully disbursed from the Ministry of Finance to facilitate the construction.
In a petition written by locals led by Mr. Sharif Mangaraine, addressed to the prime minister, the contractor should be stopped on grounds that it was awarded against set procedures and poor standards.
They also want officials involved in this scam investigated, as well as refund taxpayers’ money for failure to execute the contract as agreed upon.
“The petition is highlighting a lot of irregularities and anomalies which were based on substantive shoddy construction work, concealing of information due to conflict of interest by Ms. Rukonge Enterprises Limited, syndicate corruption and mismanagement of public funds, leading to shoddy work by the said contractor,” read the letter.
The petition was attached with photographs taken of the said faulty construction, and a memory card containing videos as evidence of the substandard work being done.
The petition has been filed at a time when the prime minister is due to arrive in the said district to visit government projects.
Residents claim that the contractor did not follow the minimum required measurements as per the Bill of Qualities (BOQ’s), and the contract agreement was signed.
Residents have also dragged in roads agency, UNRA, who should supervise all road works under the ministry of Works, their mandate as per article 166 (d) of the 1995 Uganda constitution.
Mr Stephen Kirenga, a communications official at UNRA however, says, the road works in Buyenda town council were supervised by the District Local Government.
However, the petition to PM reads that local leaders were not involved in the procurement process.
Residents noted in the petition that the said contractor did not coordinate with important stakeholders at the town council level and the district local government.
“The contractor deliberately refused to cooperate with the key stakeholders both at Buyende town council and Buyende district local government,” read the petition.
Nevertheless, they argued that the contractor did not follow the right procedures to be awarded the tender that is; inviting interested bidders through advertising in national newspapers.
“We are petitioning the ground and criteria under which a one (M/S RUKONGE ENTERPRISES LIMITED) was wrongly awarded this tender without advertisement in any national newspapers so as to invite all interested parties by UNRA.
In the petition, locals also expressed dismay on how the above-named contractor was awarded the tender decrying the mysterious circumstances under which the construction budget was approved.
They also contended that the contract was awarded to the said contractor basing on personal relationships, in which they claim some individuals in the works and transport ministry were well-positioned to award contracts, which is against the law.
“All those matters raised above, disclose matters of conflict of interest which is contrary to section 9 of the Anti-corruption act and leadership act of 2002,” read the petition.
They also demanded that the contractor shares BOQ’s with the prime minister’s office and other personnel in the district for accountability, supervision and monitoring process.
It is also alleged in the petition that the contractor started working on the said 2.8 KM road without consulting the technical staff of Buyende district or town council, a clear indicator of contempt, dishonesty, and lack of integrity.
He is also accused of arrogance by disregarding the importance of consultations with district council authorities, claiming that they are not his supervisors.
“…..UNRA failing to be independent enough in exercising its duties as per article 166 (d) of the constitution of Uganda as they failed to take an independent decision on the majority of irregularities indicated in this petition as they were misled and misguided by some individuals who need to be investigated,” read the letter.
Residents, therefore, called on the prime minister to terminate the contract, arguing that if its execution goes ahead, it would encourage more fraud and mass corruption in the works and transport ministry, leading to the wastage of the taxpayer’s money, which in turn would lead to poor service delivery.
UNRA has been involved in several construction scums causing the loss of millions of tax payer’s money. On September 2021, Ms. Nabbanja terminated the Shs.1.8 billion contract for the construction of a 42 Km road in Kyegegwa district over shoddy works during her tour on DRDIP projects. Recently, the agency was in the news for payments to a contractor for roads in Karamoja who ran away with taxpayers’ money.
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