BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
Recently we revealed how some bad intentioned Ugandans attempted to block the appointment of Fred K Bamwesigye as the substantive director general of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) by embarking on a smear campaign against him and other two officials—Eng. Sooma Ayub (UCAA Director Airports Aviation & Security) and Samuel Wonekha (UCAA General Manager Regional Airports). The operation to block Bamwesigye was being led by UCAA former Director Human Resource and Administration, Pascal Jabbe Osinde, whose services were terminated following a court order.
Jabbe wrote to President Museveni a seven- page letter, detailing why Bamwesigye&Co were not fit for UCAA top jobs. Luckily, the letter reached its intended recipient.
Jabbe hoped that Bamwesigye, Wonekha and Sooma would be sacked there and then because he made a lot of allegations and the president was moved—they were true to be believed.
He recommended: “Set up an inquiry into the mismanagement and corruption in UCAA: Suspend and investigate the following; Fred Bamwesigye; Eng Ayub Sooma and Samuel Wonekha….”
Jabbe (who even attached his colorful CV) implored the president to help him go back to help in a ‘clean-up’ at UCAA, or deploy him somewhere else in line with his qualifications in the transport and logistics sector. He wrote: “H.E, I am ready to participate in the clean-up of UCAA once reinstated into employment of UCAA, fight corruption and ensure UCAA is a credible state owned institution if you so deem fit, am also ready to serve my country in any other capacity in the transport and Logistics sector where I am a qualified. I am sharing my CV for information purposes. I look forward to our meeting with you and delivering the pictures and briefs on Odoi Chwalle and my late dad Emmanuel Opoya Osudo. I submit.”
Being the Museveni we have come to know who doesn’t act in hurry, because so has said so and so, Bamwesigye& Co were asked to respond to the allegations and which they did in a letter dated August 5th, 2021 and seen by this Pepper Digital. All the allegations, or lies were debunked and it turned out that Jabbe and his backers had waged a vendetta against Bamwesigye& Co after the latter lost his UCAA HR job(which he attributes to the three) and that’s how Bamwesigye went on to be confirmed as UCAA boss.
JABBE’S CAPITAL GRANTS PROJECTS ALLEGATIONS
In part one we focused on allegations in regard to Jabbe and some ex UCAA staff sacking which was attributed to Bamwesigye &Co; alleged
Security gaps at Entebbe Airport; Fuel theft and wildlife trafficking; and proposed organization restructuring.
But today we are revealing the truth about the implementation of Capital Projects (Entebbe Airport expansion project, Extension of Passenger terminal building, the Search Park, and Karibuni project) at Entebbe Airport which Jabbe alleges are marred with “grand corruption”.
Jabbe begins with Entebbe Airport Expansion- CCCC. He says this project which was intended to expand the airport has run into issues due to poor supervision and incompetence of the Project Managers. He alleges that UCAA appointed a consultant to supervise this project however, the Consultant is not adequately supervised leaving them at the mercy of the Contractor. “Competent Engineers were removed from this project in preference for inexperienced juniors. Ugandans are going to pay heavily for less due to the poor supervision since this project is financed by a loan under the Exim Bank. Some key components of the project like the freighters house to operationalise the Cargo centre were intentionally left out in order to be handled as a separate for obvious reasons. Your Excellency, it’s like buying a car without tyres and then purchasing tyres as a different procurement,” he alleges.
The second is the extension of passenger Terminal Building which he alleges was inflated and awarded at a cost of 40 billion shillings and to be completed in 17 months in 2017 by the Seyani Brothers. He alleges that “due to poor supervision and corrupt tendencies, the project cost has escalated to 48 billion and to date the project is below 60% completion way out of the initial timeline.” He unwittingly (As Bamwesigye&Co shall explain later) goes on to compare it with URA tower project which was executed by the same contractor and this is how he makes his case: “Your Excellency to put this in perspective, URA built an 18 floor at a cost of 139 billion which loosely translates to 7.7 billion per floor. UCAA is constructing a three floor block at 48 billion which translates to 16 billion per floor. This needs to be looked at to establish value for money.”
He talks about the search park, which he says is very critical for the Security of the Airport but “has remained incomplete as a shell with no equipment.”
The fourth project is Karibuni which he says was given priority yet ‘not critical’.
“This non- critical project to add an extra floor on the existing passenger Terminal building at an exaggerated cost of 10 billion shillings, there was no structural studies carried out to ascertain the structural integrity of the old existing structure, the project is over costed, this project will render the runway 12/30 unserviceable as it will block the Controllers line of sight. No Safety Risk assessment was done and no stakeholder engagement was carried out as required for such major projects. This project had been rejected by both Management and the Boards term expired on the 17th May 2020. I was targeted for raising the above issues at Management and in my Post Covid survival plan to the Board which was approved. Any innocent bystander will find fault with this inflated non-priority project.”
BAMWESIGYE & CO DEBUNKS THE ALLEGATIONS
According to Bamwesigye&Co, when Uganda successfully hosted the CommonWealth Heads of Government Meetings [CHOGM] in 2007, the expense that Uganda gained increased the traffic volumes at Entebbe International Airport. As a result funds were secured from the China Exim Bank together with a contractor China Communication Construction Company Limited. The Government split this loan into 2 phases; the 1st phase having a cost of 200 million USD. “The Government took a deliberate decision to split the loan due to limitations of absorption and redundancy of which would accrue unnecessary interest. Bamwesigye also makes it clear that the current management was not involved in the planning, project conceptualization and phasing of the project. It was instead the former managing director Dr Rama Makuza and former Director Airports and Aviation Security Eng. John Kagoro Tusubira conceptualized and scoped the project. The current management inherited a running project contract. “Our understanding of the project is that during the phasing, a critical look at the components of the project was done to fit the availed funds and therefore, the freighter house which provides office space for clearing and forwarding agents, could not fit within the available United States Dollars 200million. The works for the 1st phase included the following; Constructing the new passenger terminal building; Construction of the new cargo center; Strengthening of runway 17/35 and its associated taxiways; Rehabilitation of Apron 4; Strengthening of Apron 2; and Strengthening and Expansion of Apron 1,” they explain and further add that: “UCAA through a competitive international bidding process, procured a supervising consultant for this project M/s Dar Al Handasah Consultants. This is the leading consultant firm in airports in designs and construction supervision for the last 7 conservative years as indicated by Engineering News Record. This project is well supervised and we have managed to achieve a lot in the short time with the challenges that the project was facing. The project management team in conjunction with officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works and Transport were able to renegotiate the unfavorable loan clauses to the advantage of Uganda. During the 1st Covid-19 lockdown the team was able to work on 2 runways, the primary runway 17/35 and the secondary runway 12/30 to completion. Currently the project is on course and at 75% progress. Your Excellency in the course of implementation of this project various monitoring evaluation and corporate governance bodies including; Sector Ministers with technical teams, Engineers Registration Board of Uganda, Office of the Auditor General, Parliamentary Committees, NRM Manifesto Monitoring Team from State house, Uganda Tourism Board, National Planning Authority and the Transport Sector program group have visited site For quality assurance and value for money. This is one of the projects that Ugandans seem to be following with keen interest. Your Excellency, the 2nd phase of the Upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport is very important to be implemented in order for the project to meet its initial intended objective. We have made the request through our ministry to the Ministry of Finance, planning and Economic Development of USD 125 million. This phase is planned to include the freighter’s house. Your Excellency, if phase 1 and 2 of this project are completed in addition to our national courier, this will make the Entebbe International Airport more competitive and position it on the global market.”
PASSENGER TERMINAL BUILDING
Bamwesigye& Co further point out that this was also a project initiated by old management under Rama Makuza and Eng. John Kagoro, who undertook to re-organize and expand the Departures and Arrivals areas of the Passenger Terminal Building[PTB] and associated facilities at Entebbe International Airport to address the growing congestion. However, due to limitation of UCAA Revenue, it was proposed to improve the departures Areas as phase 01 Works and Arrivals Area as Phase 02 Works by constructing two separate buildings as designed by Messrs, Arch Design Architects. The phase 01 works for the projects was scoped as follows; Remodeling of the Existing Departures Area; Construction of new Departures[Concession] Block; Refurbishment and upgrade of the existing Check in Hall and Truck Road; and External, Drainage, Landscaping and vehicle parking works. To facilitate implementation of the Construction Works on site, a Construction Works Supervising Consultant, Messrs. Ssentoogo and Partners, Architects and Planning Consultants was appointed. A review of the Designs with Airport Stakeholders and Documentation for the project was carried out and the recommendations of the Design Review was that instead of two separate buildings; One of the Departures and the other of Arrivals, one building should be constructed combining Departures and Arrivals in the case of existing Terminal Building which would respond effectively and efficiently to the issues of congestion, facilitation and security concerns but also in conformity with the existing Building Design. The Project Re-design review resulted in another substantial scheme than the original project. The cost of the designed project was 49,099,280,704 billion shillings as compared to the original cost of 42,695,016,700 billion shillings [As the best evaluated bid price from a competitive open domestic bidding]. This was due to increase in scope of works; Access Departure Road; Bridge connecting new building and old terminal building; and Addition of Third Floor on the new building. They further stress: “Therefore, as new management we are implementing the reviewed scope of works with the intention of eliminating congestion, poor facilitation and security concerns that were being experienced due to the rapidly increasing passenger traffic and of recent the dictates of COVID-19 travel protocols. All efforts have been put on completing the Departures Areas on the first floor to full operational status. In completing the First Floor, measures and precautions were put in place to ensure that the incomplete sections of the Building do not cause safety hazards to the public and the users building. Upon practical completion of phase 01 Works, the Entebbe Municipal Council Authorities inspected the works and established that the Departures Floor level was constructed in accordance with the Approved Drawings under the public health act and the planning and building regulations, and issued the occupation permit. The phase 02 works have not commenced due to the current financial stress caused by COVID-19 impact. UCAA through the Ministry of Works and Transport requested for government subvention to cater for some of these important facilities funding requirements.
URA TOWER COMPARISONS
In his petition, Jabbe unwittingly goes on to compare it with the URA tower project which was executed by the same contractor. Bamwesigye& Co responds thus: “ the allegations of cost inflation and comparison of different projects cannot be done in the way Mr. PASCAL Jabbe Osinde Osudo ignorantly looks at them. Your Excellency, coincidentally, the URA Tower and UCAA’s Re-Modification of the passenger Terminal Building were executed by the same Contractor M/S Seyani Brothers and Company Uganda limited. The URA tower project has a total area of work of 42,598m at a cost of 129,100,134,329 billion ugx which translates into a unit rate of 3,037,078= per square meter. On the other hand, the UCAA project has a total area of 17,327m2 at a cost of 49,099,280,704 billion ugx which translates into a unit rate of 2,833,686= per square meter. It can be seen here that when you look at a unit work area the project of UCAA is cheaper and yet it was done much later. Your Excellency this type of construction one cannot use floors as a measure of comparison because the floors are of different areas, have different functionalities, the details and requirements for each floor is different [The figure quoted by Mr. Pascal Jabbe of 139BN for the URA Building and 48bn of UCAA are wrong].”
CONSTRUCTION OF SEARCH PARK
On this project, Bamwesigye&Co says UCAA undertook to construct the search park that included provision of 4 road lanes and a shelter in anticipation of equipping the search park shelter with security screening system through the Inter-agency taskforce that had been set up. This did not progress as explained. The project stalled, as UCAA waited for the outcomes of the Taskforce and the contractor ran to court to redress. “We implemented this project under a court order and the contractual obligations were concluded. The project did not include procurement of security screening equipment. The infrastructure now awaits the procurement and installation of the security screening systems.”
According to Bamwesigye&Co, before COVID-19, Entebbe International Airport was experiencing a steady passenger traffic growth causing a lot of congestion, poor facilitation and security concerns. In an effort to decongest the transit concourse, UCAA management and board resolved that Jamani Investment Limited the proprietor of Karibuni lounge undertakes to relocate and finance the construction of the new Business lounge facility and recoup their investment through rental fees waivers a practice world over. However, the area to relocate where it is currently occupied with staff offices which were also agreed to be constructed on the 3rd floor as an extension to the existing terminal building and “therefore the issue of blocking controllers’ visibility of runway 12/30 does not rise as alleged”.
The construction of additional offices on the third floor was subjected to a competitive domestic public tender and the best evaluated bidder was Seyani Brothers & Co (U) Ltd. at a contract price of 10,460,210,156/=. The current implementation progress is at 62%. This is contrary to the unfounded allegation claiming that the project is to cost USD 5 million.
The two projects namely; Re-modification of passenger terminal building and relocation of Karibuni lounge are intended to solve; congestion in the transit concourse; Modernize the lounges into the current Open Lounge Concept that has improved passenger experience, efficient screening of passengers, enabling passengers buy more hence increasing revenues to the duty-free shops resulting in increased concessionaire fees to UCAA. They will enable the Terminal Building to accommodate transit passengers hence responding to the coming in of Uganda Airlines that is now bringing in Transit passengers. They will also create space for Transit passengers waiting for long hours and hence the current area occupied by Karibuni lounge will be turned into providing them comfortable resting chairs.
The project also came in time to solve the COVID-19 SOPs requirements and it is one of the biggest achievements at Entebbe International Airport that has been appreciated by many stakeholders.
TO BE CONTINUED…
In our next publication, we shall reveal Jabbe’s allegations in regard to land grabbing at Entebbe and regional airports, and how Bamwesigye&Co debunked them.
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