By Prisca Wanyenya
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is ‘confused’ on how to implement President Museveni’s directives on direct procurement, saying some of the contractors recommended by the President quote obscene prices.
The revelation was made by Allen Kagina, Executive Director UNRA on Monday 12 December, while appearing before Parliament’s Committee of Physical Infrastructure. The Authority had been summoned to explain the fate of implementation of presidential directives which were issued outside PPDA act.
Although Kagina shied away from directly mentioning names, she noted that the Authority has been forced to undertake negotiations with one contractor after his bid costs overshot the estimates made by UNRA contractors.
“This hasn’t happened though we are engaging the contractor on one of these projects where the cost was three times our estimates, we haven’t reached that stage of cancellation yet. The reason we engage them in these negotiations is to bring them down to the engineer’s estimates. That work is ongoing right now,” said Kagina.
Kagina’s remarks were in response to threats made by Yusuf Nsibambi (Mawokota South) who also doubles as shadow Minister of Works to challenge presidential directives, describing them as unconstitutional saying they violate the PPDA laws.
The Mawokota South legislator hinted at this on December 13, 2021 during an engagement between Parliament’s Physical Infrastructure Committee and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
Nsibambi threatened: “So you just have to prepare, you are one of the defendants. We are taking this to court depending on the outcome definitely. You definitely have to go to court. As a person I am ready.”
The meeting between Parliament and UNRA followed demands by the Opposition led by Nsibambi, who tasked the government to explain the arbitrary directives awarding contracts to various construction entities for construction of roads, schools and health facilities across the country.
While making the submissions in October, Nsibambi cited a 15th May 2021 letter where the president directed UNRA to enter into a contract with Zhongmei Engineering group on a pre-financing agreement for construction of Kanoni-Misingi-Mityana Road (37 Km).
The President authored another letter on 21st June 2021, directing UNRA to enter into an agreement with China Communication Construction Company on pre-financing arrangement for construction of Pakwach-Karuma Road, Pakwach Bridge, Kisubi-Nakawuka-Natete Road, Nakawuka-Kasanje-Mpigi Road, Nakawuka-Mawugulu-Nanziga-Maya Road, Kasange-Buwaya Road, and Nakasero-Northern Bypass VVIP Road.
The President also ordered UNRA to award contracts to Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) for Kabwohe-Kitagata-Rukungiri(65.7km) and Misindye-Kabimbiri- Zirobwe-Wobulenzi-Kapeeka(138km).
Ashoka Buildcon Limited, an Indian company also benefited from the contract bonanza with the President directing UNRA to award it the contracts for Mpigi-Kibibi-Mityana(60km), Kanungu-Hamulwa(47km) and Butogota-Buhoma(32km).
Museveni authored another letter ordering the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and all Local Governments to surrender and prepare the ground for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) brigade to take over construction works for schools and health facilities that fall short on the required legal procurement standards.
In defence of the presidential directives, Kagina said all contracts are subjected to existing PPDA laws and regulations and the process is guided by the Attorney General who argued President Museveni’s directive is based on Article 99 of the Constitution.
Isaac Wani, Director of Network Planning and Engineering added: “Once we get these directives we do a thorough check to make sure that we are getting value.”
However, Eng. Richard Sebamala (Bukoto Central) warned that the presidential directives are likely to throw UNRA off balance.
The Committee ordered UNRA to furnish Parliament a list of all roads and contractors that have benefited from presidential directives.