The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director, Allen Kagina, has handed over the authority’s procurement department to her former Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) colleague and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Jennifer Musisi.
After taking over as UNRA ED in April this year, Musisi in June made a major shakeup firing 80 staff in procurement department, internal audit, Information Technology, finance and several engineers in operations and projects.
The UNRA Board chaired by Ms Agnes Kyiryabwire, that gave Kagina those powers, also agreed to advertise all the positions and directed that the four top officials earlier suspended in connection with the controversial procurement of the botched up Shs 24bn Katosi road scandal be dismissed.
Among those fired were; Gerald Ndaula, the director for human resources, Peter Ssebugwawo, the head of internal audit, Enock Kalema, the procurement manager, and Bruno Musoke, the regional manager for special projects.
She further axed the director of communications, Dan Alinange, and replaced him with Edison Asiimwe.
With Kalema, the procurement manager, and Musoke, the regional manager for special projects gone, Kagina, as we have learnt, decided to hand over the procurement department to KCCA on premise to end “incompetence and corruption”.
Dirty deals start afresh
We have it on undisputed authority that Musisi’s KCCA has already kick-started the procurement process for Mubende–Kakumiro–Kibaale–Kagadi Road.
The road connects the towns of Mubende in Mubende District to Kakumiro, Kibaale and Kagadi in Kibaale District.
It starts at Mubende along Kampala-Fort Portal highway, continues in a northerly direction to Kakumiro, about 33 kilometres (21 mi), turns westwards to Kibaale, and then north-westwards to Kagadi where in joins the Kyenjojo–Kabwoya Road, a distance of about 75 kilometres (47 mi) from Kakumiro.
As far back as 2010, the Uganda government began making plans to tarmac this road.
As at November 2014, bid evaluation was ongoing yet by May 2015, work on the road had not started.
Procurement process for this road had reached at its final levels with two companies; Mota-Engil Uganda, a Portuguese industrial conglomerate and Turkey’s Kolin group of companies which had passed through to the final stage.
They were going to submit their financial documents indicating the breakdown of the construction costs so as to kick start the works.
Contract given to other companies
Surprisingly, following the June reshuffle at UNRA, the contract was given to KCCA to handle.
KCCA immediately disqualified Mota-Engil and Kolin companies and invited China Communications construction company Ltd (CCC), SBI International Holdings and another company [still unnamed] which had failed on technical in the first round.
UNRA was expected to re-advertise so all companies can bid afresh for the contract but this was never done.
The road was not re-advertised, CCC and SBI were just invited and given 10 days to submit their bids yet they had failed earlier in the same bid on the technical level.
Why Kagina handed over procurement to KCCA instead of returning it to the ministry of Works and Transport is something yet to be understood.
When we called the communications director, Edson Asiimwe, he denied knowledge of this handover saying he was not authorised to talk on the matter.
He instead directed us to Kagina who now works both as the executive director and spokesperson of the roads authority.
She has not replied to our inquires on the matter up-todate.
Who is behind the new dirty deals?
On further inquiry, we were told that both CCC and SBI are being botched through by highly powerful people connected to State House.
The road is for design and build which CCC and SBI failed in their first bidding which was won by now pushed out Mota-Engil and Kolin companies.
This being a big contract, one wonders whether KCCA procurement can handle such.
When being appointed to head UNRA with a clean record of cleaning up URA, President Yoweri Museveni said Kagina would cleanse the road sector of corruption.
While everyone thinks the lady is coming to clean, new misgivings are popping up.
Mubende–Kakumiro–Kibaale–Kagadi Road has now become a syndicate between her and Musisi, an insider told us.
In 1999, Musisi began working at URA where she re-united with her close friend, Kagina, then commissioner general, who was a year-mate at Makerere University.
Musisi entered URA as deputy commissioner legal and quickly rose to the rank of commissioner of legal and board affairs at URA under Kagina’s leadership.
At the end of her contract at URA in 2011, Musisi retired from the agency with the intention of going into private enterprise but was quickly in April 2011 recalled by President Museveni.
He appointed her as the first executive director of the newly created Kampala Capital City Authority.
The question at the moment is why Kagina chose to give UNRA procurement department to KCCA instead of giving it back to the Works ministry which should have taken over in that case until new staff are hired?
Highly political road
This highly political 107km road located in oil-rich Bunyoro region will cost government Shs 350bn.
Even when these companies [Mota-Engil and Kolin] were winning, there are five occasions on which the failed companies like Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, a China-based global construction firm, petitioned and procurement was re-done.
Still, Mota and Kolin went through again and again making the procurement for the road take more than two years.
Kakumiro and Mubende people at the close of last year demonstrated at UNRA offices in Kampala against the delay of works on the road.
The ministry of Finance, building on the residents’ complaints, asked UNRA board why the process was delaying.
It was discovered that self-interests had delayed it until the preferred companies which “give a reasonable commission” have been awarded contracts, an insider intimated to us.
“It was because some people’s preferred contracts were not going through.”
Which criteria did KCCA use to invite only three companies [CCC, SBI and another] which failed on technical level to push out, without consideration, the companies that went through to final level?
Why not invite all of them to compete afresh?
This is what makes the whole procurement process suspicious.
More war on Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road
In July 2015, allegations of influence peddling, over the Shs 450bn contract for the Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road, surfaced.
Kagina and Works minister, Eng John Byabagambi, agreed to handpick a contractor for the road despite an earlier petition on influence-peddling and fraud in the process.
The companies being sidelined on these projects; Kolin was contracted the 92km Kaiso-Tonya road that stretches from Hoima District to the oil villages of Kaiso, while Mota-Engil is contracted by government to upgrade Northern bypass.