Shs14.4bn per km! Lukwago raises red flag over inflated costs for works on Kampala potholed roads

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The Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago has raised concern over what he termed as the inflated cost for the construction of 31 roads by Kampala, starting February.

Following a public uproar over the deplorable state of a big chunk of roads in Kampala , characterized by potholes, KCCA recently announced they had received a $288m (Shs1 trillion) funding from the African Development Bank (ADB)and the African Development Fund to implement  road rehabilitation activities in the city under the Kampala City Roads Rehabilitation Project (KCRRP).

This would cater for the reconstruction of 31 potholed roads measuring in total, about 70km around the five divisions of Kampala.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Lord Mayor Lukwago said despite KCCA getting a meagre budget, the little that goes into critical issues like infrastructure development is swindled through inflated costs.

“For the 31 African Development Bank funded roads lined up for construction this year, they constitute 69km at a cost of shs1 trillion which translates to each kilometer being constructed at a whooping shs14.4billion. What baffles us are the large quantities of bills and inflated unit costs,” Lukwago said.

“This is ridiculous a cost for the construction of these road. It is outrageous. These costs are obscenely inflated. Imagine if a kilometer is to cost shs14.4billion and you have 2110km of roads in the entire Kampala, how are we going to construct all of them? It means during our lifetime, we shall never finish constructing the roads in Kampala.”

The Kampala Lord Mayor said no amount of explanation can justify the inflated cost of the roads that he said is rather a scheme by some individuals to siphon the taxpayer’s money.

“There has been attempt to justify this huge cost but it stinks….. that there are traffic junctions and streets light but we have done comparative study in the East African region and entire sub Saharan region and we have the highest cost defeating even those areas where the terrain is difficult to navigate. We are not constructing in mountainous areas like Kisoro that we have to navigate around those terrains. What explains this inflated cost?”

Mafia, cartels behind this

The emotional Lukwago explained that he knows of cartels and mafia whom he said are in both the central government and at KCCA that plan the schemes to inflate the costs of the constructions for their own benefit.

“There is a cartel involving proxies of the regime and functionaries within the system at KCCA We have been fighting this cartel for quite a long time. They are within the central government, here within the institution (KCCA) and outside the institution. This money is given with one hands and taken away with another.”

He said his team raised these matters with the African Development Bank and some interventions were made.

Lukwago said after being notified of the same, the ADB team was outraged and halted the entire process which occasioned the delay in the commencement of the construction works which in turn saw members of the public come up in arms over the deplorable state of roads in the city.

This state of affairs, he however said was to the benefit of mafia since pressure was now on ADB to release funds for the construction to kick off.

Enter IGG

Lukwago says he specifically raised a red flag to the IGG over this form of corruption prompting the latter’s team to visit him at City Hall for more evidence about the matter.

He however noted that up to date, he has not heard from the IGG over the same matter.

“We got a heap of documents we submitted to the IGG and expected investigations to commence but started hearing stories inside there(IGG’s office). Now they have seated on our petition to them.”

“Ask IGG Beti Kamya and her two deputies. They came here and handed over this same information to them and we requested for action to be taken. Since then we have been asking for a follow up but the cartels are determined to deal with us. The cartels are there in the central government,” Lukwago said.

KCCA responds

When contacted for a comment, KCCA spokesperson, Simon Kasyate washed the institution clean of the said mess.

“The award of these contracts has followed a procurement process. KCCA has no qualms as to the integrity of this process and the result of which,” Kasyate told the Nile Post.

He said Lord Mayor had a lot of time to address the matter to relevant offices but noted he chose to do so at a press conference.

“Some of these contracts were awarded in the last quarter of last year; some still undergoing the procurement process. The good old Lord Mayor may wish to share with you, all and sundry, where he has previously expressed this concern and it was not attended to, for him to today, resort to a media briefing.”

Also contacted for a comment, the IGG spokesperson, Munira Ali said she would check the status of the matter but by the time the story was published, she had not yet got back to us.

Later, Munira said she was still following up on the matter.

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