Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda
Exactly six months after the Commonwealth Summit in Kampala,
The Weekly Observer can reveal the extent of the mess that
characterised the Shs 250bn meeting.
It is a story of how the State House at Entebbe failed at
house-keeping and catering, and had to hire a Kampala hotel
at the eleventh hour.
It is a story of importing cars with defects, something
blamed on very senior NRM leaders.
It is a story of a BMW vehicle locking in a head of state
because its driver had not been trained.
It is a story of a refrigeration vehicle imported to serve
heads of government spouses arriving six months after the
It is a story of a canine vehicle meant to carry Police
dogs to boost security still in the bond.
Organisers at the highest level of Uganda’s biggest
event ever have told The Weekly Observer that despite the
huge financial cost, it is a miracle that the meeting took
place without a major hitch.
Most of the problems arose from delayed preparations, and
top government honchos manoevering for personal gain, which
explains why there are currently four separate teams investigating
what went wrong and who was responsible.
There is a parliamentary select committee headed by Buikwe
North MP, Onyango Kakoba; a CID Police probe, and an audit
by the Auditor General. In addition, Parliament’s
Disciplinary Committee is investigating whether some MPs
were bribed to pass additional CHOGM funding.
The infrastructure committee of CHOGM handled 38% of the
CHOGM budget (Shs 96 billion), which explains why most of
the scandals have been reported in road repairs.
As a result, multiple investigations are targeting this
area, particularly the repairs on Entebbe Road.
At political level, the infrastructure committee was headed
by the Minister of Works and Transport, John Nasasira, while
at the technocratic level, it was Permanent Secretary, Charles
Entebbe Road started peeling not long after major repairs,
six months before the event. This was potentially very embarrassing
for Uganda as all visitors were to use Entebbe road on their
way to Kampala. Corruption, incompetence and sabotage were
suspected, resulting in a probe by the Police.
Reliable Police sources have told The Weekly Observer that
at least five senior engineers from Ministry of works have
already appeared before the CID over allegations of shoddy
work on Entebbe Road.
The engineers are; Samson Bagonza (Works Chief Engineer),
Mugisa Obiero (Commissioner for Roads), Martin Odongo (Chief
Material Engineer), Kaaya Mukasa, and Bisuuti Balamu.
The Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura,
has reportedly handed over a report on Entebbe Road works
to President Museveni.
According to Police sources close to the investigations,
there exists a power struggle in the Ministry of Works and
some engineers who want Nasasira deposed could have done
shoddy work to tarnish his name.
Energo (U) Ltd., a Serbian firm, was contracted at the
cost of Shs 6.7bn to repair and reseal a big part of the
road. Works commenced in April 2007, just six months to
the event. However, the road started peeling before CHOGM,
forcing the contractors to do remedial work.
The Weekly Observer has now reliably learnt that for the
remedial work done, the firm asked for an additional Shs
1.6bn, bringing the total cost to Shs 8.3bn. In addition,
MBW Consulting Engineers who supervised the road in October,
a month before CHOGM, were paid Shs 275 million.
The Auditor General is investigating road repairs in preparation
for CHOGM to establish whether there was value for money.
John Muwanga has already established that tenders were awarded
without competitive bidding and some contracts were signed
long after work had commenced.
According to documents submitted to the Parliament probe
committee, five companies won tenders to repair and reseal
tarmac roads in Kampala and Wakiso districts.
These are; Energo (U) Ltd - Kampala-Entebbe, Akii Bua and
Binayomba – Shs 8.3bn
Dott Services Ltd – Salaama Road – Shs 5bn
Sterling Civil Eng. Ltd. – Kampala Road, Queensway
and Mackinon Road- Shs 8.7bn, Cementers Ltd. Yusuf Lule
Road, Wampewo Avenue and Mukwano Road – Shs8.5bn,
Spencon Services Ltd.- Kampala Road in Entebbe, Mugwanya
Road, Circular Road, Kitooro Road, Entebbe Resort, Lugard
Avenue and Bulime Road – Shs 4.3bn.
Dott Services also did repairs on Berkerly, Dr. Lubega,
Tamale Ssali and Nakiwogo Close – Shs 2.8bn.
Spencon was also given Kololo area at Shs 6bn while Nakasero
area went to Cementers at Shs 3.8bn.
However, most of these contracts didn’t comply with
the procurement procedures which require the approval of
the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA). The
firms were largely handpicked.
At least Shs 71bn was spent on repairing and resealing
roads ahead of CHOGM. This figure does not include about
Shs 6bn spent on consultants who supervised the repairs.
While corruption will not be ruled out, part of the problem
was the hasty manner and panic with which roads and other
CHOGM projects were handled.
Organisers in charge of Security, Foreign Affairs and State
House all didn’t seem to be in control of things.
Most of them had no idea which venues were to host CHOGM
functions until the 11th hour. They also didn’t know
which roads would be used. This may have been a security
precaution but with Uganda’s poor infrastructure it
means that venues that needed a facelift were not identified
in good time.
The Weekly Observer has seen a January 5, 2005 letter the
Works Minister John Nasasira wrote to Prime Minister, Prof.
Apolo Nsibambi, seeking guidance on designated ‘CHOGM
“There is need for us to start the road projects early
enough due to the long time required for their implementation,”
As Nasasira waited for word on venues for his ministry
to start road repairs, he had to withstand pressure on the
poor state of Kampala City roads in 2006. It is understood
that President Museveni was in a very angry mood after driving
through Kampala which he found heavily potholed. He unleashed
his frustration on his minister, who officially is not responsible
for Kampala city roads.
Under mounting pressure, Nasasira was forced to contract
some local firms without following the normal procedures,
which would have taken much longer. This was reportedly
done at the cost of Shs 8bn to please an angry president.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Kampala, Nasser Ntege Sebaggala,
was unhappy that the ministry was repairing ‘his’
roads without involving him.
Also, President Museveni and his lieutenants remained undecided
as to which access roads to Speke Resort Munyonyo, the retreat
venue, should be used.
As a result, Shs 40 million was wasted on a consultant who
surveyed Lweza-Kigo-Munyonyo as a possible route, only for
the President to reject it, arguing that it was insecure.
In addition, sources have told The Weekly Observer that
the organisers didn’t even know which venues some
of Uganda’s prominent guests were going to visit.
In September 2007, about two months to the event, President
Museveni and minister Kutesa learnt that spouses of heads
of government were to tour the Source of the Nile in Jinja
and Kasubi Tombs in Kampala. They immediately issued directives
to have roads leading to these two spots repaired.
The repair of roads going to the Source of the Nile, two
months to the event, cost the taxpayer Shs1.1bn. The hasty
construction of a pier (landing place) at Kigo on Lake Victoria,
also ordered two months to CHOGM, cost Shs 517million, according
to documents being scrutinised by Parliament.
Other sources have told The Weekly that while originally
the arrangement was to use Statistics House as a search
park, the Minister of Security, Amama Mbabazi, IGP Kale
Kayihura, and Intelligence kingpin David Tinyefuza, rejected
the idea at the last hour. An order to construct a parking
lot at the Shimoni grounds was immediately issued, less
than a week to the event. Some Shs 471m was sunk into this
The reason procurement procedures were not followed, according
to our sources, is because the organisers didn’t know
for sure which roads were to be repaired. They kept revising
the list almost up to the opening ceremony.
And as the list of roads to repair continued to grow, so
did the budget. With that confusion, shoddy work was inevitable.
“The kind of panic I saw, it was sheer luck that
the thing happened,” said a Cabinet source who was
part of the main organising team.
With so little time left and too much work to do, a foreign
construction company SBI declined an offer to work on the
Kasese Airfield runway, which was to be used by the Duke
of Edinburgh on a visit to the Queen Elizabeth National
The Israeli contractor said time was not enough for them
to do a good job.
A consultant who supervised some of the road works in the
run up to CHOGM has told The Weekly Observer that spending
Shs 71 billion on patching up potholes in the city was a
waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Roads have a design life. About 78% of the roads
in Kampala have served their design life and if you patch
a pothole here, it will develop there. You need total reconstruction
of roads in the city,” said the consultant who spoke
on condition of anonymity.