Adjumani Town masses demand accountability for Multi-billion World Bank-funded roads project

The Illa road section which stretches 0.66km long, aggrieved residents are doubting the workmanship.

ADJUMANI, (UG): Animosity is plummeting across the development subtle or gallant community in Adjumani town less than one month into the USMID-AF Funded project of upgrading 3 Kilometers road in Adjumani town council. 

A local politician-cum social media activist Mr Angwe Solomon blew the whistle on an ostensibly bargained quantity and quality of work differing from the approved design when he took photographs of road pegs illustrating the width of the road has been wickedly narrowed signifying an ancient and substandard design.

The social media post has attracted several reactions and outbursts from a section of the community who have since then demanded a transparent explanation from Adjumani CAO Oryono Grandfield on the quality of works so far executed since the handover of the site to the contractor on June 12, 2023.

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The Rock Trust Contractors U Ltd has signed an agreement with Adjumani District Local Government for upgrading 3 kilometers of road to asphalt at the contract sum of 10.273.496.747 shillings. The roads cover the Administration road which is 1.43km, Illa Road 0.66k and Market Road 1.09km.

The project is funded by World Bank under USMID AF (Uganda Support for Municipal Infrastructure Development-Additional Funding) and the Consultancy work is jointly done by SEGAMU14 and HERSUN Ltd.

The scope of work according to the design document that was authored by UB Consults includes; a carriage-way, solar-powered street lights on both sides and walkways on the drainage.

According to key documented reactions from respected persons in society based on both commonsense and technical assessment, the base of the culvert laid along Illa Road near Divine Coaches Park is weak and therefore not to specifications.

The positioning of the culvert is not in alignment with the safe disposal point of water, instead of being aligned to Magni Road which is a shorter distance, it has been aligned to Openzinzi Road which might affect a considerable number of households according to another worried party.

During a site visit on August 1, 2023, the LC III chairman Adjumani town council Chairman Mr Mangapi Lawrence, who was joined by a team of technical officers was concerned about why Rock Trust engineers were not working on the road bed along Illa Road but simply excavating the bitumen and compacting the road surface.

The town engineer Mr Drichi Henry alluded to the complaints of the public that indeed the bitumen road surface on the road prematurely peeled off because the roadbed was not well compacted with murram.

Along the Administration road on the edge of Surumu Stream is another visibly poorly aligned culvert which looks away from the waterway and the height of the culvert which is 1.8 meters looks extremely high producing a steep slope on the Bridge.

The engineers have been accused of not showing respect to motorists as they block roads without preparing alternative routes for accessing their homes or villages causing unnecessary inconveniences and road accidents.

A section of Illa road stretch in Adjumani Town which is undergoing an upgrade

Above all, Mr Angwe Solomon and his aggrieved group contend that since the contract document is a public document the office of CAO should avail it for public scrutiny so that willing community members can effectively monitor the project hence the work is executed to the designs.

The group have however faulted CAO Oryono Grandfield for failing to avail the contract documents to them for analysis accusing him of a sinister motive.

The acting district Engineer Afayo Nick who is the project supervisor said he has no problem availing the contract document to people who desire to study it but they must first seek the permission from CAO who is the custodian of documents and assets of the district.

Based on all the observations of the aggrieved residents or citizens, the collective summation or synopsis is that the contractor is incompetent and leaning on a politician rock but also financially impoverished which is a sufficient reference for compromising the quality of work.

Engineer Afayo in an interview with DailyExpresst explained hat the quality control plan is prepared and issued by the contractor and is reviewed periodically and in the quality control plan there are both pretests and Tests. The pre-tests are carried out before the execution of works like murram, a certificate for cement and aggregates among others while Tests cover, concrete mix, methods of work, and design and the review is routinely done by the consultants.

During a joint press briefing held with the representatives of the contractor and the consultant, MS Angel Nyachwo who communicated for the Consultant said there is no foul play on pegging of the road because the contractor is implementing the design that was prepared by UB Consults on behalf of their client Adjumani district local government.

MS Angel explains that whereas the pegging shows a narrow road, it is not reflective of the entire road width as the pegging is strictly reserved for the carriage way which is two lanes and 4.3 meters on both sides which enhances to 8.6 meters width.

She says the underground piped culvert and the walkway on the drainage are still pending as they handle the relocation of underground water pipes with National Water and Sewerage Cooperation and alignments of electricity poles with UEDCL and asserted the pegging are austerely for driving lanes and should not cause nervousness.

On the perceived substandard work on Illa road as demonstrated by no attention paid to the roadbed, MS Angel notes that the road was tarmacked and there is no need to work on the bed again besides the design does not provide it and disclosed that the specification will not apply to administration and Market roads. 

“The culvert along administration road has been laid to the design to channel the water from Andrizia road before reaching Surumu River and a massive box culvert will also be installed on Surumu River and will rise 3 meters which will marry the heights from either side of the bridge”.

“My honest appeal to the aggrieved party is to be practically patient because the culvert along Illa road is well placed and the final disposal of water point will be re-directed if a review reveals so” MS Angel said.

The foreman of Rock Trust Contractors Limited, Mr Makubwa Ismael has allayed the fears of the public attesting that the project will be implemented to design and specifications but advised against drawing a comparison with Strabag Construction Company because they are working on a totally different project designs and specifications.

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“Take time to understand construction work, it is so sensitive and needs careful execution because it is not like surgery where the patients sleep forever without serious backlash but when a building collapses or a road develops potholes a few months after construction the company will take time to regain lost image,” Mr Makubwa. 

He said road designs are well-informed by statistics or evidence like traffic counts and its projections which is why perhaps Illa road was designed in such a way that it does not require re-enforcing the roadbed.

An official from the office of CAO said the design can have amendments but with bureaucratic procedures’ tagged to financial implications and hinted that if there are concerns about the scope of works and quality, members of the public can submit grievances for appropriate remedies.

It is now quite obvious that the pace set by the quality of work by Strabag Construction Company along Atiak-Omi road in Adjumani district has created vigilance but also reasons for drawing parallel comparisons on road constructions.

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