By Our Reporter
Mbale district local government authorities and inhabitants have expressed concern over awarding a road works contract to Dott Services to implement the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project.
In November last year, the government through the Lands, Housing and Urban Development ministry signed Dott Services to undertake the reconstruction of Naboa road and Cathedral Avenue at a cost of over Shs 16 billion.
However, some local residents claim that Dott has such a bad track record and wonder how it won the contract for the Mbale city two roads. They claim that the company had quality challenges in its previous contracts mainly on the Mbale-Tirinyi-Nakalama road, Rukungiri-Kanungu-Osaka road, Kigumba-Bulima road, Kyenjojo-KagadiKabwoya road, Fort Portal-Hoima and Mbale-Soroti road and was accused by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) for doing shoddy works.
Dott Services quality fears were raised during the second progress review meeting for the construction of the two roads held at the company site camp in Mbale city on Wednesday.
Safiyu Mafabi, the chairperson Mbale Elders Forum told the meeting that the public has lost confidence in Dott because of their previous shoddy works on Soroti road. He says that they got concerned when they received news that Dott had won the contract to work on the two roads in the city.
“For us when we heard it was Dott now going to take up the contract, we got concerned and said won’t these people do haphazard work in the city? That is our worry. They have done pseudo work on Soroti road. These ones [Dott] the public has lost confidence in them,” said Mafabi.
Hakim Watenyeli, a member of Mbale Municipal Development Forum, says they have reservations because of the company’s past bad experience. He says the company has a bad reputation and carries a huge burden to improve its image.
“Our worries were about their past experiences, how they used to perform and how some towns used to complain about them. So that made us get worried when we saw them here. But according to what they have told us, and the experience we have seen on Tirinyi road, let us hope they are here for more improvement than Tirinyi road,” said Watenyeli.
Dr. Eng. Godfrey Mwesige, the project manager from UB Consultants says despite the company’s previous record, he expects better this time around.
“We cannot undo history, whatever happened to Dott previously should be. It is a lesson to us now for the current contract…You also need to know that in the road works, when we do a good job and it is praised, they don’t remember Dott was in charge. The good thing is even when they do stupid things, they also say it is Dott but we are trying to…have the best” said Mwesige.
Eng. Emmanuel Tom Ojuka, a municipal infrastructure engineer in ministry of Lands told Dott officials that people are closely monitoring the roads project in Mbale and they expect better results. He says there shouldn’t be any excuse on the part of the company but to deliver to people’s expectations.
Mario Christobal, the project manager Dott Services, said the works are moving with the exception of a few challenges like the relocation of utilities and rains. He promised to deliver to their employer’s expectations. Pamela Watuwa, the Mbale city resident city commissioner (RDC), said that she expects value for money that has been invested in the project.
“Value for money is very important, and here I want to look directly to the contractor and say these words that; to whom much is given, much is expected. Shs 16bn worth of a road, how does it look like? That will be in the process as we go together. By the time someone looks at Shs 16bn, it is actually Shs 16bn and you’re spending less time on the road, you’re enjoying the ambience of your district or city.
I think the bigger picture is that government desires to have people living in beautiful places. Yes, you have had challenges in the past as Dott Services, but you have moved over that, it is time to work. Give us the real deal, I have seen it at Tirinyi road, deliver it for Mbale as well,” said Watuwa.
Last year, the Physical Infrastructure committee of parliament protested when the Works and Transport minister, General Katumba Wamala revealed that the government had contracted Dott Services to construct roads in Congo.