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May 22, 2008
Chogm roads mess
By 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 meeting.

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.

Entebbe Road

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 Muganzi.

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.
Road mess

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 roads.
“There is need for us to start the road projects early enough due to the long time required for their implementation,” Nasasira pleaded.


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 new proposal.

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 Park.

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.



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