KAMPALA – A cold war is looming at Kampala Capital City Authority as bidders grow restless over the African Development Bank (AfDB) funded US$ 288 million city Road projects.
The AfDB is providing the funding through a loan to the Government of Uganda to assist with the rehabilitation of up to 70km of roads in Kampala including Portbell Road, Old Portbell Road, Eigth Street, Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Sentema Road, Salaama Road, Seventh Street, Sir Appollo Kaggwa Road, etc.
The road projects are to be implemented under 5 lots and 2 lots were advertised earlier this year and the bids which were returned in March 2021 are under evaluation.
Some of the bidders include China Railway GROUP, China Railway No. 7, China Communications Construction Company, China State Engineering Corporation, Sino Hydro Ltd, Zhongmei, etc.
It is understood that the with the bids under evaluation, some of the bidders have started a war targeting both the process and some of the KCCA senior officials including Deputy Executive Director, Eng. David Luyimbazi.
But officials say the evaluation process is still ongoing and Mr. Luyimbazi, who is part of the new team at KCCA under Executive Director Dorothy Kissaka is not part of the evaluation team, throwing cold water on allegations of favouring bidders being spread on social media.
According to sources, the evaluation team has been put under strict notice by the KCCA top management to include bidders’ historical performance track record on previous contracts (both in Uganda and abroad with various organizations) as a top evaluation factor.
Mr. Luyimbazi who oversees the KCCA technical wing, on assuming office in August last year led the process of ensuring that the bidding documents capture historical performance as an evaluation factor as part of the new management’s effort to cause improvements where problems existed. “This requirement is affecting some of the contractors involved in the ongoing tender evaluation process and some bidders have resorted to blackmail,”.
However, officials affirm that the procurement process has established checks and balances that cannot allow the alleged excesses to take place, and the obvious attempt to portray the KCCA Deputy ED as the alpha and omega of issues at City Hall is baseless because the ED Ms Kissaka has the final decision and is currently managing the process
“There is a provision for an aggrieved bidder to seek for Administrative Review where his concerns can be addressed at both Accounting Officer level and the Procurement Tribunal. If the allegations of lack of fairness or bias are proven to be true, then corrective actions are instructed”. When contacted about the circulating dossier, Eng. Luyimbazi boldly stated that “He will not be intimidated by blackmailers” and hang up.
According to information available, KCCA has been grappling with the issue of contractor performance which has hindered the turn around for major projects in the city.
For example, the World Bank is currently financing a $175 million Kampala Infrastructure Development Program (KIIDP2) which became effective in May 2015 and the initial closing date was June 2019. However, due to a combination of poor contractor performance and COVID–19, the current program closing date is now November 2021.
The implications of extending the program closing date as a result of entertaining poor performance is that the new lending from the World Bank of US$ 450 million has to be delayed too.
“Meanwhile, the country is paying avoidable additional costs for price variations and the public suffers from prolonged construction and traffic jams,” a source said.
The situation has led to a stern warning to KCCA from the Minister of Works Gen. Katumba Wamala and the former Minister of Kampala, Hon. Betty Amongi, who wrote and castigated KCCA over the issues pointing out shoddy performance by one of the contractors China State Engineering Corporation.
In his March 17, 2021 letter to KCCA Executive Director Kisaka, Gen. Wamala pointed out 9 violations by the Chinese contractor warning of dangers such as road safety and traffic management including “failure to remove excavated materials from the roads, e.g. at City Oil, Kamwokya”.
Former Kampala Minister Hon. Beti Amongi in a March 26, 2021 rejoinder to Gen. Wamala, said the World Bank had raised serious issues of contractor performance on projects.
“I take note that we still have upcoming road works to be contracted out and I hope you will take cognizant of of the performance of the companies as per concerns raised by both myself and the Minister of Works,” the minister wrote.
There are also records from the World Bank through the minutes of their supervision visits lamenting the poor performance of some contractors (including China State Construction) and it is understood, that some of these are seeking to circumvent the procurement process by intimidating and blackmailing officials.