The UNRA Executive Director, Allen Kagina has blamed the rise in bogus whistleblower complaints that are frustrating road projects on contractors who have not been active given the surge in new contracts by UNRA.
Kagina said that during the 2017/18 financial year, procurements worth Shs 8 trillion were planned but only contracts worth Shs 3.7 trillion had been signed by the end of the year. This represented 46% of the planned procurement.
“We have not had many contracts in the last financial year, therefore the fight among the contractors who are idle is fierce. The competition is high,” Kagina said.
She was Tuesday addressing the press at the UNRA headquarters on the performance of the Authority in the concluded 2017/18 financial year.
“They have now gone through unscrupulous channels and involved the media to cause a dust storm,” she said of the ‘disgruntled’ contractors.
Kagina appealed to disgruntled individuals to use the existing mechanisms to raise concerns regarding procurement instead of sabotaging government work. She said that administrative reviews, PPDA and the tribunal are some of the other avenues that can address such issues.
“There are really good appeal mechanisms but for people to circumvent them through anonymous complaints on malpractice against each other is regrettable,” she added.
Kagina says that these conflicts between contractors over who gets a bid are dangerous to the country since they derail projects some of which are funded using external loans, yet the country continues to incur interest.
“It is dangerous because the loans become ineffective, Ugandans dont get the service (roads) they require and the economy doesn’t grow. We are determined to deal with these whistleblowers,” said Kagina.
Road projects like Rukugiri-Kihihi-Kanungu, Kapchorwa-Suam and the Busega-Mpigi Expressway are among those that have profoundly been affected by anonymous complaints. Kagina said that procurement for the Busega-Mpigi project alone received a total of 20 whistleblowers.
Similarly, the UNRA Board Chairman, Fred Omach said anonymous complaints are negatively affecting infrastructure projects especially those financed by the World Bank and Africa Development Bank.
“If you are a whistleblower, you must identify yourself. For most of the external financiers like World Bank and Africa Development Bank, whether a complaint is genuine or not, they will require that the process is halted until the matter is investigated,” Omach said.
He said that UNRA takes whistleblower complaints seriously and if any party is found to be culpable, they are reprimanded using the systems.
In the 2017/18 financial year, UNRA completed studies and designs for 20 road projects totaling to 980 kms. In the year under review, contracts for 3 of the 6 packages totaling 363 kms that are part of the oil roads were awarded. These include Masindi (Kisanja) – Park Junction and Tangi junction-Paraa-Buliisa roads, Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko and Buhimba-Nalweyo-Bulamagi-Igayaza-Kakumiro.
Manual routine maintenance was carried out on 3,653 kms of paved roads and 12,823kms of unpaved roads while periodic routine maintenance was done on 2,318kms of paved roads and 8,906kms of unpaved roads.
UNRA is currently constructing 22 road projects totaling 1,311 kms which include upgrading from unpaved to paved. In total, 6 road construction projects were substantially completed and thus 294 kms were added to the country’s paved road network.
The finished roads are; Mbarara bypass, Kampala- Entebbe Expressway, Rushere-Nshwerenkye, Gulu-Acholibur, Acholibur-Musingo and Mpigi-Kanoni. Their completion represents a 1.4% increase on the paved road network to 4,551kms.
Four bridges were substantially completed during the same financial year.