Companies courting the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for road work contracts are in state of high tension as the body approaches final evaluation phase.
KCCA is in the final stages of awarding contracts for over five city roads, including Sir Apollo Kaggwa, Sentema, Seventh Street, Old Portbell, Salaama roads, among others in the USD 288 million funded African Development Bank (AfDB) funded projects.
To be implemented under 5 lots, the 70 kilometres worth projects have two lots earlier advertised currently under evaluation, with some of the KCCA known contractors including China Railway No. 7, China Communications Construction Company, China Railway Group, China State Engineering Corporation, Sino Hydro Ltd, Zhongmei going for the bidding process.
Several KCCA officials who are believed to have influence in the bidding process have found themselves under constant pressure from the bidders. Deputy Executive Director, Eng. David Ssali Luyimbazi, Eng. Mirembe Nnassuuna and George Makajuma a Transport engineer in the African Development Bank say they have had to explain repeatedly that the tendering process is straightforward and is what should be followed.
Several of the bidders are said to have become jittery after KCCA top management asked the evaluation team to include bidders’ historical performance track record on previous contracts (both in Uganda and abroad with various organisations) as a top evaluation factor.
Mr. Luyimbazi, who oversees the KCCA technical wing, explained that it is a known fact the procurement process has established checks and balances that cannot allow excesses to take place.
He said that the final decision rests with the accounting officer — in this case city Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka, who can address any anomalies.
The KCCA ED is currently managing the process and aggrieved bidders can seek her veto through Administrative Review, or even go to the Procurement Tribunal for redress.
“Why are people panicking before the evaluation process which I am not part is done? We came to cause improvement here and if this is the price, so be it. We shall proceed on the discourse that puts public interest first,” he said before declining any further comment.
As they prepare for the upcoming road project, the KCCA has been evaluating contractor performance after delays in the current major major projects like Acacia Road, and Kisaasi ring Road, attracted heavy criticism from the political leadership, including Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and the Minister of Works Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala.
As a result of the criticism, former Kampala Minister Betty Amongi wrote to the KCCA Executive Director and ordered that underperforming contractors should not be considered for upcoming road projects.
The delayed road projects under the World Bank funded $175 million Kampala Infrastructure Development Program (KIIDP2), currently under construction led to a letter of concern from the Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, citing violations by contractors.
For example, the funding for the projects became effective in May 2015 and were supposed to be finished by June 2019 but due to a combination of poor contractor performance and COVID–19, the projects are still ongoing.
In his letter to KCCA dated March 17, Gen. Wamala for example warned about serious violations by one of the contractors, China State Engineering Corporation that put road safety and traffic management at stake.
Responding to the Works Minister’s letter, former Minister for Kampala Hon. Betty Amongi said in view of the serious issues raised even by the World Bank supervision team over contractor performance on projects, some of the poor performers should be excluded from future 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.
According to minutes of a meeting between the World Bank and the KCCA political and technical wings after the funders supervision visits, poor performance of some contractors (including China State Construction) was a big problem.