The High Court has dismissed with costs a case in which Dott Services had sought for an injunction stopping Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) from hiring another contractor for the rehabilitation of the Nakalama – Tirinyi – Mbale road.
Court presided over by Justice Billy Kainamura on Monday ruled that Dott Services had no propelling reasons to cause court to stop UNRA from getting a new contractor since a separate ruling had previously squashed the adjudication process in the dispute between the two entities (Dott Services and UNRA) for lack of jurisdiction.
The court case stems from the termination of a two year contract previously awarded to Dott Services by UNRA for the rehabilitation works on the 200 kilometre road in May this year. UNRA terminated the Shs 73 billion contract after the contractor failed to execute their work on time despite numerous warnings by UNRA in addition to a bad working relationship with the client (UNRA).
A stretch of 8 kilometers of rough and bumpy sections had been left open by Dott Services as you approach Mbale town which exposed motorists to accidents.
Dott Services has been in the spotlight several times for shoddy works on a number of the roads it has constructed.
At the time of termination, with only two months to its expiry, the contractor (Dott Services) had only executed 19% of the planned works, a negligible portion.
Subsequently, Dott took the matter for adjudication citing breach of contract and demanded for damages, interest and costs but the adjudication has been ongoing.
In the application filed before the High Court, Dott Services sought that court stops UNRA from entering into another contract for the rehabilitation of the said road. The applicant further asked that a temporary injunction be issued to restrain the Attorney General from approving any other contractor except Dott Services.
However, in his ruling, Justice Kainamura stated that Dott Services had no case on grounds of; a prima facie case with a likelihood of success, plausibility to suffer an irreparable injury that couldn’t be compensated for and balance of convenience.
Lawyers representing Dott Services had argued that the termination of the contract was likely to cost the firm a loss of Shs 73 billion (contract sum), its financial investment already made as well as damage its reputation and deprive Dott Services of any new contracts.
“The applicants case was basically that he will lose Shs 73,363,489,273 and a reputation. The said money is money that can adequately be compensated and so is the reputation,” Justice Kainamura’s ruling read.
“I am therefore of the opinion that the applicant will not suffer any irreparable damages as all contemplated damages pointed out by the applicant may well be recovered in the award were it to be successful,” the ruling further read.
On the issue of balance of convenience, Dott Services argued that it had everything to lose as opposed to the first respondent (UNRA). However court ruled that if an injunction was issued restraining UNRA from hiring a new contractor to complete the work, this would inconvenience the road users as litigation could drag on.
Court also found that while the subject matter to the case was still before adjudication and a final judgment not pronounced, the adjudicator (Mr. Kafuko Ntuuyo) had been found to lack jurisdiction over the claim before him.
On October 26, 2017, in an application involving ‘UNRA vs Centre for Arbitration & Dispute Resolution and Dott Services’, the High Court squashed the appointment of the appointment of the adjudicator.
It is upon this background that Justice Kainamura ruled that; “for there to be a triable issue, there ought to be a pending case awaiting final determination… this therefore means that there is no adjudication at a all and therefore no pending case before any tribunal”.
UNRA’s Media Relations Manager, Allan Ssempebwa told SoftPower that the court ruling is a big relief and opportunity for UNRA to provide a much needed service to the citizens.
“An injunction meant we wouldn’t be able to have major works undertaken on the road and this would expose the road users to accidents,” Ssempembwa said.
“It is a big relief to us. Recently a group of MPs from Eastern Uganda held a protest demanding for the rehabilitation works to resume. We couldn’t stay in such a situation,” he added.
He said that UNRA is in the final stage of engaging the Attorney General and Solicitor General to have a new contract awarded.
Ever since Dott Services withdrew from the road, UNRA’s Construction Unit has been on ground to keep the road motorable.