The Office of the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) has directed authorities from the Western Uganda Municipalities of Kabale, Ntungamo, and Mbarara to halt the termination of contract with Multiplex Construction Company Limited over delayed road works.
The company was contracted in May 2021 to tarmac a 0.76-kilometer Bwankosa road, a 0.34-kilometer Bushekwire road, and a 2.47-kilometer road that connects Kabale Diocesan Headquarters to the Katuna-Kabale-Mbarara Highway under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project.
Now, in Kabale municipality, despite the three extensions granted, the construction work progress remains at 26.4 percent, with the contractor leveling the roads and digging trenches to work on the drainage system. The contractor is also currently paying liquidated damages of Shillings 23 million per working day to the municipality after failing to complete works on time, with payment due in 100 working days.
During a supervisory visit by the USMID, World Bank, Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, and Kabale Municipality officials on April 25, 2023, the contractor was given until August 3, 2023, to substantially complete its road upgrading projects in Kabale Municipality or risk losing its contract. He was accused of being unserious and of mobilizing machinery and workers only when supervisors were expected to visit.
In a letter dated May 15, 2023 and addressed to Kabale, Ntungamo, and Mbarara municipalities’ authorities, Patricia Achan Okiria, the Deputy Inspector General of Government, directed the charging of liquidated damages and the move to terminate contracts awarded to the company until they receive further communication from the same office. When contacted, Achan confirmed the development, saying that the directive is because IGG has commenced investigations into the matter after the contractor lodged a complaint accusing municipality authorities of mistreatment.
The Kabale Municipality Mayor, Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha, said in a press conference today that his office revealed that he has received a copy of the letter directing them neither to terminate the contract nor demand liquidated damages from the contractor. Byamugisha described the directive as unfortunate and a sign of cohesion and collusion between the contractor and the office of the IGG.
Byamugisha wonders why IGG rushes to issue a directive favoring the contractor and forgets that the whole phase of USMID Cluster 6 is ending in December 2023. He also argues that IGG issued a directive without stepping on the ground to see how the contractor has failed to perform. Byamugisha adds that he is likely to lead a protest until President Yoweri Museveni, who pledged one of the roads under construction (Rushoroza Road) during his presidential campaign in 2010, intervenes.
The Director of Multiplex Construction Company Limited, Engineer Moses Bossa, had earlier attributed the delay to the struggle to acquire a permit from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to quarry stones in the Ntungamo district for use during the tarmacking stage. However, he did not commit to completing the work by August 3, 2023.