MBARARA, UGANDA: The Office of the Inspectorate of Government (IG) has directed authorities in the Municipalities of Kabale, Ntungamo and Mbarara City to halt the termination of contract with Multiplex Construction Company Limited over delayed road works.
In a letter dated May 15, 2023, and addressed to Kabale, Ntungamo and Mbarara municipalities’ authorities, the Deputy Inspector General of Government Ms Patricia Achan Okiria directed that charging of liquidated damages and the move to terminate contracts awarded to the company until they receive further communication from the same office.
When contacted, Ms Achan confirmed the development saying that the directive is because IGG has commenced investigations into the matter after the contractor lodged a complaint accusing municipality authorities of mistreatment.
The company was contracted in May 2021 to tarmac a 0.76-kilometre Bwankosa road, a 0.34KM Bushekwire Road, and a 2.47KM road that connects Kabale Diocesan Headquarters to the Katuna-Kabale-Mbarara Highway, under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project.
The project valued at Shillings 21.7 billion is being funded by the World Bank and was initially expected to be completed by May 2022. The same contractor is also implementing similar projects in Ntungamo and Mbarara Municipalities at a cost of shillings 54 billion.
However, in Kabale municipality, despite the three extensions granted, the construction work progress remains at 26.4 per cent, with the contractor levelling the roads and digging trenches to work on the drainage system. The contractor is also currently paying liquidated damages of Shillings 21 million per working day to the Municipality after failing to complete works on time, with payment due in 100 working days.
During a supervisory visit by the USMID, World Bank, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, and Kabale Municipality officials on April 25, 2023, the contractor was given up until August 3, 2023, to substantially complete its road upgrading projects in Kabale Municipality or risk losing its contract. He was accused of being unserious and of mobilizing machinery and workers only when supervisors are expected to visit.
The Kabale Municipality Mayor, Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha said in a press conference today that his office revealed that he has received a copy of the letter directing them neither to terminate the contract nor demand for liquidated damages from the contractor. Byamugisha described the directive as unfortunate and a cohesion and collusion between the contractor and the office of the IGG.
Byamugisha wonders why IGG rushes to issue a directive favouring the contractor and forgets that the whole phase of USMID cluster 6 is ending in December 2023 hence arguing that IGG issued a directive without stepping on the ground to see how the contractor has failed to perform. Byamugisha adds that he is likely to lead a protest until President Yoweri Museveni who pledged one of the roads under construction (Rushoroza Road) during his presidential campaign in 2010 intervenes.
The Director of Multiplex Construction Company Limited, Engineer Moses Bossa had earlier attributed the delay to the struggle to acquire a permit from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to quarry stones in the Ntungamo district for use during the tarmacking stage. However, he did not commit to completing the work by August 3, 2023.
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