ADJUMANI: DRDIP Engineer pinned over fraud in multimillion market VIP latrine

Community leaders and members inspecting one of the two VIP drainable latrine at Zinyinni market in Adjumani DIstrict, West Nile (Photos/Amacha Goli)

Adjumani, (UG): The Community Project Management Committee (CPMC) of a multi-million Market project under the Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) in Adjumani have instructed the Contractor to stop construction work citing irregular and fraudulent omission of VIP Latrine.

The Chairman CPMC Zinyini market project in Arasi parish, Arinyapi sub county Mr. Amacha Luka said they have discovered that a 5-stance VIP latrine worth shs 5m has been omitted from the project design and Bills of Quantity. To their surprise, when they summoned the DRDIP Engineer Adjumani desk office, Mr Nathan Ayiko and the Contractor to account they have since shunned the invitation.

During a tense meeting held at the market construction site on November 23, 2023, chaired by the Arinyapi sub-county chairman Mr. Seseko Dominic and attended by Arinyapi District Councilor Mr. Sabuni John who is also secretary for health Adjumani district, and the representative of the contractor, the meeting resolved that the construction work be temporarily halted pending investigations into the alleged irregularity and fraud.

Mr Amacha told the heated meeting that during the training of CPMCs and Community Procurement Committee (CPC)on project monitoring, DRDIP engineer Nathan read out the design component of the project which includes; 20 lock ups,32 stalls, two 5 stance drainable VIP Latrines a water tank and perimeter fencing with chain link.

According to the Chairman, such acts of dishonesty and sham started right from the foundation stage, the first foundation had 16, lock-ups but upon persistent and loud complaints by CPMC it was raised to 18 and then 20 which is the number on the design document. 

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“I bodly raised the issue with Engineer Nathan Ayiko but he kept overdozing me with technical explanations and all I could understand is there is a funding gap yet the contract sums for the project which is shs 584 m remain intact”.

Mr Mawadri Michael an elder who was closely monitoring the project blames the CPMCs for the mess because they were not keen on what was becoming apparent at the construction site or else the alleged fraud would have been detected long ago.

Mr. Mawadri Michael believes there could be several structural defects since some of the local materials procured by the contractor like hardcore are not the required standards laid down in the Bills of Quantity (BOQ).

Mr Sabuni John now wants the DRDIP Engineer Nathan investigated with the view of prosecution because he has confirmed from the office of procurement that the market project has 2 five stances VIP drainable Latrine and wondered how there could be an omission on the design without informing the CPMC, CPC and drawing the attention of the district executive committee who approved the project.

“After learning of this impish and mischievous act, I approached Eng. Nathan and requested him to come to Arinyapi sub-county and explain the matter before stakeholders and leaders but he refused to honour my guidance when my voters are as well closely monitoring the project”.

Mr. Sabuni said he is aware DRDIP Project is ending in December 2023, and no amount of time wasting will benefit the people of Arinyapi while accusing the Engineer of employing a deliberate delaying tactic to the vexation and anguish of the beneficiaries of the project.

“I had hoped to curtail the wicked plan of Eng. Nathan denied the contractor the second phase of payment and advised the CPMC accordingly but they defied my advice and went ahead effecting the payment of shs shs 73m”. Mr. Sabuni John laments.

Out of the total contract sums of shs 584m shs, the CPMC has already cashed out shs 197m to ULTO Engineering Ltd and has been acknowledged as the first and second payments for the foundation and walling respectively and the two market blocks have been roofed pending final touches 

The unfinished market structure at Zinyini: On the left are the stalls, while on the right are market lockups

Mr Dominic Seseko (Arinyapi) who chaired the intense meeting said; “It appears there is a conspiracy by some technical officers against the people of Arinyapi sub county attesting that whereas identical market project with similar designs and funds allocations has been allocated to Pachara sub-county, their latrine has not been omitted to wonder why the people of Arinyapi are being discriminated and treated lethargically?”.

“It is unfortunate that Eng. Nathan has ignored my invitation through the senior assistant CAO Arinyapi Sub County to come and make clarification on the matter today, I have also cooperatively extended invitations to the district Eng. Afayo Nick, the contractor Engineer Richard Jalobo and the district procurement officer but both turned down my request”.

The DRDIP Engineer Nathan Ayiko when approached for a comment said his office acted within the guidelines downplaying the suspicion that he wanted to swindle money for the 5-stance VIP latrine which is approximately shs 34m.

He said he had to seek clarification from DRDIP headquarters in Kampala for re-scoping since one of the two bidders who bided close to the reserve price was disqualified at stage 1 of evaluation and ULTO Engineering Ltd who bided a little bit hire emerged as the successful bidder, so the re-scoping was to ensure the contractor is within the budget and does not incur needless financial loss.

Pressed to produce evidence of a letter from the Director of NUSAF/DRDIP guiding him on the matter, engineer Nathan who appeared to be in a panic baton produced a letter, dated November 30 2022, addressed to the CAO Adjumani and signed by Mr. Robert Limlim Director NUSAF/DRDIP. 

Whereas engineer Nathan claims the Director NUSAF/DRDIP Mr. Robert Limlim directed him to do a re-scoping of the said letter has serious discrepancies in content and dates.

For example, the letter indicates DRDIP Head Office approved the disbursement of an additional shs 464,329,115 to ensure the contracts are fully funded when he is instigating re-scoping.

The managing director of ULTO Engineering Ltd Mr. Richard Jalobo has said, he has not received written instructions from the CPMC to stop work at the site, even if he was notified, he would not be directly affected because he takes instructions from the engineer. Nathan who advices him on technical matters including issues of design.

“If the Arinyapi sub county chairman Mr. Sseko Dominic does not like me at the site am ready to withdraw and I will lose nothing because I have reached the last stage of finishing the project and this, I have achieved in a limited time space besides I have produced quality work” Mr. Richard Jalobo ranted.

Adjumani CAO Mr. Oryono Grandfield is reported out of station for official duty in Kampala and his deputy Mr. Wambi Richard who is in charge said he was not briefed on the matter and could not afford to issue a media statement and promised to revert to DailyExpress at such a time when he is privy. 

Speaking on telephone from Kampala on November 31, 2023, Adjumani East MP Hon. Mamawi James said he will immediately commence investigations into the matter and without doubt reach to the bottom of the matter and ensure the people of Arinyapi reap maximum benefit from the project.

“I want to assure the populace of Arinyapi Sub County that if there are naughty and ill-envisioned plans to fleece them, it will not succeed because am prepared to attract the full investigative machinery of government to unearth any deception or scam and bring the perpetrators to account in the shortest time possible.”

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As the first phase of DRDIP is on the verge of closing, Adjumani district has already benefited from 364 projects. This includes;56 infrastructures,155 projects in the environment and 155 in livelihood according to a preliminary report issued by the desk officer Adjumani Mr. Gulam Abubakar.

DRDIP which is a World Bank project designed for refugee hosting districts started operations in the 2017-2018 financial year but the actual implementation of sub-projects kicked off in the 2018-2019 financial year.

In the five-year project lifespan, Adjumani District has received a cumulative disbursement of shs 55.2bn.

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