EXPOSED! UNRA, struggling Turkish contractor secrets revealed

Allen Kagina

By our reporter

Officials at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) are on spot after information emerged that they are reportedly planning to pay a certificate of $30m (about Shs100bn) to a Turkish contractor whose performance record is not straight. These are the same contractors behind stalled Muyembe-Nakapiripiti Road which has made locals and road users hate the NRM government. Polat Yol Yapi was in 2019 awarded a Shs399bn to upgrade the above 92km road to bitminus standard. An advance of Shs60bn was passed on the contractor thereafter.However, shockingly, the contractor has never even paved a single km to asphalt standard. He instead allegedly wired the money to Kuwait to work on other projects that had been struggling financially.Now details emerging indicate that some officials at UNRA have been holding meetings with Polat Yol Yapi CEO Celaleddin Polat to see how to secure a partial certificate.Polat jetted into the country on February 8th and reportedly held closed door meetings for almost two weeks, which culminated into the first official meet with UNRA top officials on 15th February at UNRA offices in Nakawa.During the meeting, the officials halted the termination of of Polat Yol Yapi contract for atleast a month pending the fulfillment of certain conditions.Among the conditions include full mobilization to 100%, recovery of the advance payment, demonstration of proof having sound cash, and work programme in tandem with the contractor. But according to UNRA insiders, the contractor cannot fulfill the above but they want to use the record to show cause on why the contractors should be given more time. “Of course he will secure some documents and convince UNRA that he will fulfill the conditions and after, they will give him more money do the works,” the source said.“The likely case scenario, he will wire the money out the country…,” the source added.The Turkish contractor received an advance payment of Shs 60 billion in March 2020 from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and used it to work on a road project in Kuwait. The shocking information was revealed by a whistle-blower through a letter to Allen Kagina , the Executive Director of UNRA.The Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road project which started in 2020 has up to date registered challenges which are obstructing and retarding its progress. The worst of all is that almost all the challenges are deliberately initiated by the project management and some individuals from and within the supervisory authority.In a letter dated 29th March, 2021, the whistle-blower exposes how some top officials at the authority connived with Polatyol Construction Company to save billions of shillings at the expense of Uganda’s taxpayers.“The contractor was advanced Shs60 billion and took it to a project in Kuwait while Uganda was still under Covid-19 Lockdown last year. The Project in Kuwait was terminated and the contractor cannot recover that money,” the whistle-blower told Ms Kagina.24 months later, the Turkish Construction Firm has not laid any asphalt, don’t have an asphalt and Batch Plants yet they have only less than a year to complete the project.Shockingly, when UNRA field officials visited the projected recently, they learned that the contractor had managed to do earthworks of only 3% of which the works were done by local subcontractors who as well have never been paid and have since abandoned construction.Polat Yol Yapi was given a 28- day ultimatum to at least complete 13.8 kilometres (15%) of the road by end September last year, up to now there is no progress.According to reports , the contractor has not hired nor owns any equipment. He reportedly used equipment leasing agreement from Star Group to get the contractor from UNRA. Star Group, an international equipment leasing company has since pulled out of the project.The UNRA officials who visited the site have been compelled to author a confidential report expressing “disgust” and calling for urgent intervention to save the multibillion project.“Polat Yol Yapi has failed to mobilise equipment, failed to set up an asphalt plant and also failed to acquire a rock and crusher for it. As a result, they lack capacity and need to be replaced,” one of the progress report indicates.The report adds: “What is most worrying is that Polat Yol Yapiis is financially constrained to an extent of facing difficulty in paying local subcontractors. All these complications may lead to several legal complexities yet we need to save the project. Our conclusion is that the contractor’s continued woes will render the project a death-trap.”The report describes Polat Yol Yapi as simply a middleman using indigenous companies to do the work as Arab Contractors, another Middle East company, did on the Pallisa Kumi road.In 2019, Uganda borrowed $112m [about Shs 400bn) from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to facilitate the road construction project. Polat Yol Yapi controversially emerged as the best bidder with Tunisian firm SCET Tunisie becoming the supervision consultant.However, the project was doomed from the onset when Polat Yol Yapi diverted the Shs 60bn to a road project in Kuwait while SCET Tunisie used their Ugandan associates, MBW Consulting Ltd, to do the supervision on their behalf.“There is serious worry Polat Yol Yapi will not accomplish the task in the remaining 20 months because they lack capacity. Other than a generator, they [Polat Yol Yapi] have no equipment on the ground and even the provider of tippers demobilized them after not being paid,” reads the report. “It is despicable that they [Polat Yol Yapi] are hiding behind the Turkish embassy and hired a grader for President Museveni to launch the road in November 2020,” a report concludes.It has also emerged, the firm has had seven of its contracts in Kuwait and Turkey terminated.


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