COSASE queries UNRA for contracting an unsolicited contractor for the Kampala-Entebbe Express highway project
Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on November 3rd, 2016
The COSASE committee has queried UNRA for contracting an unsolicited contractor for the USD 476m Kampala-Entebbe Express highway project was an unsolicited contract. The committee was further that it is the contractor who carried out the project feasibility study and designing of the road at his own cost.
This was a revealed in a meeting between UNRA and COSASE committee chaired Abdu Katuntu, Bugweri County member of parliament, by Eng. Peter Sebanakitta- Pioneer Executive Director of UNRA. The meeting was also attended by other former Executive Directors, Ssebuga Kimeze and James Okiror as well as the current Executive Director, Allen Kagina and other former and current junior officials.
The former Executive Director informed the committee that China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC)-the contractor for the express highway was introduced to UNRA by the then Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Kissami(RIP) in 2005. The team to the former UNRA’s Executive Director was led by the commercial consular of china.
After the feasibility study, the contractor even proposed the financing source Exim Bank of China who indeed is the one financing the project. The committee also learnt of unfair financing agreement which included getting a Chinese consultant as well as the agreement being made and guided by the laws of china.
Due to failure to subject the contract to competitive bidding, a number of anomalies were reported by the auditor general and further observations were made by the committee. They include;
1. The committee noted that although the project aimed at de-congesting the traffic jam on Kampala-Entebbe road. This many not be achieved as the expressway starts from Busega and it will not reduce the congestion experienced on the existing Kampala – Entebbe road since most of the vehicles using existing Entebbe road from the city centre do not necessarily go to Entebbe. These will continue to use existing Entebbe road and congestion will remain.
2. The committee also faulted the former executive director for contracting the supervising consultant for the road project who was Chinese without competitive bidding but rather through the Ugandan Chinese embassy. The former officers explained that it was a condition in the financing agreement to have the Chinese consultant. The committee queried them and noted that this might have reduced the US$ 4.998m given to the consultant in case it was competitive bidding.
3. The Auditor General also made a comparison in terms of the cost of the Entebbe Express High way with the Addis-Adama Expressway of Ethiopia also constructed by CCCC from 2010 to 2014. The unit cost of the Kampala- Entebbe expressway is USD 2.315 million per lane kilometer while that for Addis –Adama expressway is USD 1.204million per lane kilometer. The report also noted that the Addis- Adama expressway has more features than the Kampala- Entebbe expressway.
However, the former Director for Planning noted that it would be misleading for the Auditor General to just compare the two roads without considering the unique feature of both roads in terms of where they pass. However, the committee didn’t agree with his submission. He asked the committee for time to go back and prepare more details and come back on Tuesday next week.
4. The capping layer of the road was costed at USD 32.24m almost the same amount as for the sub base at USD 33.32m. This was on assumption that wherever there is a sub base there will be a capping layer underneath yet some sections may not need the capping layer. The then Director for Planning, David Luyimbazi attributed this to the many bridges the road has because of being in a swampy area. Even on this they didn’t agree with the committee. He asked to be granted time to look for more information and come back on Tuesday next week.
5. Work on the road running behind schedule and the delayed settlement of compensation disputes. Former Executive Director explained that by the time he left office, he had handed over a subsection of the site. They further added that the project was delayed due to wrangles among land owners as well the delayed release of compensation funds by ministry of finance.
6. The improper application of the price adjustment formula for the foreign currency that led to loss of USD 68,558. The current management explained that they learnt on this and has reviewed the price adjustment and has so far made recovery of USD 11,900.
The committee resolved to summon the current Secretary to the Treasury, Director Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority, the Attorney General as well as the contractor to shade more light on the matter
The chairperson adjourned the meeting to 8th November, 2016