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How Govt resolved 10-year deadlock at Amelo Technical Institute with Shs1.5b funding

The current administration block at Amelo Technical Institute in Adjumani District, West Nile (All Photos/Amacha Goli)

Adjumani, (UG):- The stalemate surrounding the completion of the infrastructure project at Amelo Technical Institute in Adjumani is now resolved after government secured fresh Saudi Funding worth Shs1.5bn after a series of botched procurement of contractors who failed to deliver in the last 10 years.

The Minister of State for Primary Education Hon.Dr. Moriku Joyce during her handover speech on May 20, 2024, at Amelo Technical Institute recognized that government is intensely aware of the discontent of the people of Adjumani as a result of the procurement of two contractors from Egypt and China respectively who both failed to complete the works as projected.

“It’s my sincere hope that today will be the very last time we hand over this site to the contractor under phase one of the project. I hope that M/S Zawadi Hotel Ltd will use this as a golden opportunity to showcase the capacity of a reputable locally based Ugandan contractor to undertake this work which may open more doors”.

Dr. Moriku informed leaders in Adjumani that the Ministry of Education is continuing to advocate for phase II of financing for the Vocational Education Training (VET)project which she notes is dependent on the success of phase I since a number of key Institutional facilities are still missing.

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“Project phase II is accordingly proposed to provide additional facilities including; a girls dormitory, a multi-purpose hall,8 units of teaching staff housing,6 units of non-teaching staff houses, training workshops for 2 more courses, a sick bay and external works,” Dr. Moriku. Moriku divulged.

She echoed the importance of Technical Vocational Education Training as very key sub sector of education for ensuring both formal and informal employment of the people and insisted that our youthful population can only become a national strategic asset if carefully shaped into a patriotic, knowledgeable, innovative and productive workforce.

What went wrong?

Dr. Safina Kisu Musenen a director in the Education Ministry who represented the Permanent Secretary gave a blow-to-blow account of how once thought reputable international contractors messed up the contracts spanning 10 years.

“We are glad to be back here in Amelo TI (Technical Institute) after about two years of no activity at the site. We would like to take some time to account to you for what we have been doing behind the scenes and to share the way forward for completing this Institute”. Dr. Safina stated.

She said following a National Competitive Bidding process, the original contract worth USD 1.7m was awarded to an Egyptian company called EGY Trading and Engineering Projects Ltd in March 2014, the contractor failed to finish the works as he managed to achieve physical progress level of 80% and the contract was eventually terminated in July 2018.

After consultations, the Saudi Fund and Ministry of Education agreed to procure one giant contractor to complete all outstanding works at four incomplete sites at, Amelo, Bukedea, Lyantonde and Bukomero Technical institutes’.

On December 4, 2019, a contract worth shs 5.5 bn was signed with MS COMPLANT Engineering and Trade U(Ltd)a Chinese Company working in Uganda, however, natural calamity interfered and towards the end of 2019, as Covid-19 ravaged the entire World threatening the extinction of mankind consequently the Company was not able to access adequate working capital.

“Owing to the Covid -19 scourge the original contract execution period of 8 months was extended two times to cumulatively 10 months to June 30, 2021, but the situation was not different and the Ministry reacted by terminating their contract in June 2022, for non-performance which included cashing of performance grantee and imposing other penalties as the contractor was able to achieve only 40% of the scope of works”.

In further consultation with the Saudi Fund in June 2022, according to Dr. Safina, it was this time agreed to directly engage local medium-sized firms as alternatives for completing the outstanding works and the Ministry opted for internal direct procurement which commenced mid-October 2023, and was cleared by the solicitor General in January 2024.

Local contractor awarded final contract.

Finally, the solicitor General reviewed and approved the final draft for signing on May 20, 2024, and the final contracts were signed on April 16, 2024, with MS Hotel ZAWADI Ltd for a VAT-inclusive sum of UGX 1.591,352,519, with a contract duration of 6 months, for which completion is expected by November 20, 2024.

In the scope of works the contractor will undertake the completion of the existing structures which primarily covers; Electrical works, painting, mechanical works which cover, plumbing and pipe works, repair of cracks on the floors and walls and general fixtures, the contractor will also do external works which involves grading of the road nearing the facility, paving the parking lot and drainage works among others.

Minister hon.Moriku Joyce handing over contract documents to the contractor (Right)

The Managing Director of Hotel Zawadi Ltd, Dr. Emmanuel Amaza assured the Minister of State for Primary Education and district leaders that he will respect the contract and deliver the work on time since it is an assignment which his team can undoubtedly perform with equal readiness even in tough circumstances.

He called upon the Ministry of Education officials to play their roles without causing due delay especially when it comes to rescoping and other technical adjustments since construction works are subject to changes.

Hotel Zawadi Ltd has a working experience spanning 20 years in construction works both within Adjumani district and other parts of the country.

Amelo Technical Institute is among the five institutes’ that were established in five districts in Uganda under phase I of the Vocational Education and Training VET project with loan financing from the Saudi Fund for Development.

The other Institutes under the project are Bukedea TI in Bukedea district, Bukomero TI IN Kiboga district, Lyantonde TI in Lyantonde district and Namayingo TI in Kyenjojo district.

Elected leaders react

The Adjumani woman MP Hon.Ababiku Jesca called upon the populace in Adjumani to have trust in government but wondered if phase I of the project could not be delivered in 10 years how about the second phase?

“There is need for swift monitoring and supervision of the current contract because in the first phase, the problem appeared to be bigger than the resource envelop yet the demand for the Institute is bigger than the assessment

The Area MP, Hon Mamawi James said how he wished the first decision was made in favour of Hotel Zawadi Ltd the first phase would have been completed, nonetheless, he called for quality workmanship and timely completion of the project.

The Adjumani district chairman Mr. Anyama Ben hailed government for doing a commendable job in ensuring that funds are firmly secured for the completion of the infrastructure project at Amelo TI which he attested has become a political tool for unserious politicians, he advised the ministry to be keen on monitoring the project since some unserious consultants can delay works at site.

In May 2019, the Minister of Education and Sports Hon.Janet Museveni who was on a monitoring tour of the facility ordered the relocation of learners from Amelo TI to another Centre since they were occupying incomplete structures which were not fit for human occupation, the learners were subsequently moved to the district farm Institute in Olia and returned in December 2023.

Owing to the new development the students numbering over 300 have again been asked to return to Olia district farm Institute to avoid delays of work and inconveniencing students and cases of accidents.

The narrative of Dr. Safina has allayed the suspicion of opinion leaders and right-thinking persons in Adjumani that funds meant for the project could have been dubiously managed by corrupt elements in the Ministry of Education in a syndicate with local leaders.

Gross internal mismanagement of the affairs of the Technical Institute has however affected enrolment as the pioneer principal Mr. John Kamba has been managing the Institute as a personal property leading to low enrolment as the teaching staff were severely demoralized.

By the time Mr. Kamba was interdicted, there were 39 students in the Institute but now the new principal has redeemed the Institute with the current enrolment rising to over 300 learners as money-spinning courses like air conditioning and refrigeration have been added to the new list of courses.

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