Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit November 27-29, 2015, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the Government of Uganda sought of overhauling the entire lighting system in the City-most of which was installed during the 2007
The total cost was estimated at Shs15Bn which the government paid months for the Papal visit in a bid to change the entire lighting system to Solar Powered Street Lighting.
It is against this background that M/S Phillips East Africa was contracted amidst a report that its contract did not go through the bidding process.
We have reliably learnt that; whereas M/S Phillips East Africa won the contract, it did not take part in the street lighting process prior to the Pope’s visit. In fact, contractors that were used include; Mulstar Technical Services LTD, Tetra Technical Services LTD, Cable Corporations LTD, Ms Kiboko Enterprises LTD, M/s Junior Electricals and M/s Bashir Metal works among others to supply materials for the works.
For instance, Mulstar Technical Services was paid Shs 23, 850, 000 to supply material for the works. Others include; 22, 225, 300 to Tetra Technical Services LTD (Electrical materials), 41, 820, 200 to Cable Corporation (10mm2 underground cable), additional 49, 347, 836 to Cable Corporations for underground cable 10m 4 core copper armored, 2, 098, 391, 182 to Kiboko Enterprise as 30% advance payment from Crane Bank and Shs. 700, 000, 000 from Bank of Africa, Shs 3, 500, 000 on account number 3720028541 (Centenary Bank-Mapeera Branch) to Abas Katumba of M/s Junior Electricals to facilitate Electrical works and 7, 900, 000 to Ahmed Bashir Kakaire’s account number 23390205010121 (Orient Bank Limited-Katwe Branch) to clear M/s Bashir Metal Works off supply of Street Pole Brackets among others.
A highly placed source at the authority told us that the use of the other contractors explain why shoddy works were done.
The Shs15Bn was expected to fund the commissioning and decommissioning of current street lights to pave way for Solar Powered ones.
Poles under trees, like those on Kampala Road were all to be removed as would falter the Solar panels.
The project was to run the entire City, not only major areas of Pope’s visit like Rubaga, Munyonyo, Namugongo and Mbuya.
KCCA itself paid casual workers including ghost ones and procured materials for Street Lighting.
For instance; on October 30, 2015 10, 080, 000 was requested for to clear casual laborers for the works done. Others include; Shs 16, 565, 000 paid for works between October 22-November 4, 2015, October 22-24, 2015 1, 120, 000 and cash advance to facilitate electrical works and another Shs 50M requested for the same.
What remains a mystery is the fact that the Shs15B had already been budgeted for the entire project.
Sources privy to this information and documents seen by this news site indicate that some workers were paid and signed for their monies but others did not.
In fact, we are told that names forwarded for payment by the Manager Operations, under the Directorate of Engineering and Technical works Jeremy Steven Ntambi were 600 compared to the less than 150 who signed for their money but what shakes the authority is where the balance is.
Most of these workers were being paid between Shs 20, 000 and 30, 000 depending on whether one is a skilled laborer and or unskilled. Over Shs50M was requested for by Jeremy Steven Ntambi through the Director of
Engineering and Technical Services.
KCCA HIRES FOREIGN AUDITORS
We have reliably learnt that KCCA has hired a team of auditors from China who will come on the ground and audit what is in place visa a vis the amount of money spent in a bid to save the Shs5Bn deficit.
“These people are landing anytime soon. Authority is not happy with the works done during the Papal visit and wants to know the exact money spent” the reliable source told us.
MANAGER OPERATIONS BOSS PINNED
An impeccable source at the Nakasero based arm told this reporter that close to a week before the Pope’s visit; Ntambi still went ahead and decommissioned the Street Lights when he was aware that those to be delivered by M/s Phillips East Africa could not reach in time. This prompted them to hire LED bulbs (not now solar powered bulbs) from Kiboko Enterprises LTD.
In addition, on Wednesday, a day before the Pope’s visit, he told his bosses that the delivery by Phillips East Africa would be done by air, yet the Panel and Poles are too heavy to be transported by air.
“There is a crisis at KCCA. KCCA admits there was shoddy works and now wants accountability but no one is revealing the total amount. So, how do you account for what you don’t know?” Our source told us adding, “After
running out of time, all is now blamed on Ntambi who was directly handling the project. The work was done hurriedly and they couldn’t use the right materials”
We have established that KCCA may cost government a deficit of Shs5Bn.
NTAMBI SPEAKS OUT
Jeremy Steven Ntambi is the Manager Operations, who directly handled the Street Lighting project during the Pope’s visit. He was hired while working with the European Union abroad to handle the Electric Car project but was
assigned other duties under the Directorate of Engineering and Technical Services by the authority pending surveillance on the Electric Car project.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ntambi told us that the authority followed all the necessary procedures, advertising inclusive and that M/s Phillips East Africa took the lead as Contractor.
He noted that: “Discussions within government had funds released a month to the Pope’s visit. By the time money was released, we had our obligation with the bidder and there were glitches in flying the material. Internationally, some of these materials are not allowed to be airlifted because they are considered explosives but shipping it would take about 2-3 months. What we did, was just temporary work because we had agreed that under all circumstances, the streets must light up. The project is not closed yet; we did our best other than leaving the streets in darkness and I am sure by the end of February, 1000 solar lights will be on the streets. We can’t stop at what we have done because we have to show value for money”.
On ghost workers Ntambi said: “600 were our estimated laborers. Decommissioning was done by KCCA while Commissioning was done by Phillips. There are procedures we go through as we pay but the ones who did the work, we harmonized and reconciled the payments.
“Phillips took the contract and was recommended. They were actually the lowest bidder and about Shs7Bn, 15Bn was an estimate. According to what they quoted, we delivered our objective by covering all sensitive routes by
the time the Pope was in the Country. The other companies helped us in supplies on what to change as we were decommissioning because we only allowed Phillips to use our Poles and not anything else” Ntambi told us
adding, “We have a team that is monitoring the nitty gritty of this project. The government can’t lose money because we give contracts on grounds of Original advance payment Guarantee and Original Performance Guarantee”.