By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| The journey has been long, the cries have been loud, but the light at the end of the tunnel beams like a ‘Ray of Sunshine”.
The hope for local contractors to have more government contracts seems bright, at least according to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). There has been cries from local contractors regarding awarding of international contracts.
Over the last three years (2017/2020) local firms have been awarded 26% (Shs8.1 trillion) of the Ugx2.15 trillion budgeted for the roadworks.
According to John Omeke Ongimu, the Director Procurement at UNRA, all efforts are being made by the government to support local firms.
“In UNRA all road projects below Ugx45b is left for local contractors. We are ensuring sub-contracting for roads like the oil roads, that were done by local firms despite challenges,” he said.
Omeke was addressing participants at the launch of the CoST Uganda 4th Assurance Report at Protea hotel in Kampala on Wednesday.
Omeke, whose firms swept most of the CoST Uganda 2021 Fair Business Practice Awards noted that UNRA had ring-fenced certain category of firms.
“All maintenance, such as routine and periodic has been reserved for local firms as well as all low volume sealed roads, swamp improvements, selected bridge works, short-span bridges, labour, and based maintenance of roads,” he explained.
He said these are some of the steps taken by UNRA to increase the level of participation of local firms in the roads sub-sector.
He highlighted challenges such as high capital requirements, financing agreements, and the lack of skills in tarmacking among local firms as barriers that need addressing.
Findings of the Report
The overall findings of the 4th CoST Uganda Assurance Report indicated an increase in disclosure.
Pamela Aceng Opio Kazibwe the lead researcher told stakeholders at the report launch that a total of 23 PEs were assessed. “Disclosure across the 23 projects was at an average of 62%, an increase of 20% from the 3rd Assurance process which was at 42%,” said Aceng.
She said proactive disclosure increased from 43 to 55% whereas reactive disclosure increased from 42% to 70%.
The report showed that there was still high foreign dependency for investments in most infrastructure development.
“Loans took 58% for 14 of the 23 projects assured, while government contributed 31% and grants amounted to 11%,” explained Aceng.
22 of the assured projects coast USD$ 1.272 (Ugx4.6 trillion).
She said the Proactive disclosure for all the 8 Procurement entities assessed was 55% ranging from 20% with Wakiso District Local Government (WDLG) to 85% with UNRA topping here.
It emerged that as PEs like UNRA, National Water and Sewerage Corporation raised the bar, WDLG didn’t improve its proactive disclosure in the past three exercises.
Other PEs assessed included the Ministry of Works and Transport, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), NWSC, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water and Environment, and Ministry of Education and Sports.
The projects assessed under UNRA included the Northern Bypass, Rukungiri- Ishasha roadworks, the Kyenjojo- Kabwoya, and the Soroti- Akisim road works.
Minister for Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala in a speech read for him as Chief Guest by Eng. Sam Bagonza hailed CoST Uganda for spearheading the issues of infrastructure accountability in the country.
“The fact that disclosure has risen in the 4th assurance report compared to the 3rd assurance report is an indicator that people are starting to release information,” said Katumba.
Gilbert Sendugwa, the CoST Senior Manager for Africa said over the years there has been tremendous improvement regarding disclosure. “We have noticed that the levels of transparency and accountability in infrastructure are improving,”
Due to Covid 19 pandemic, the assurance process was conducted virtually in most procurement entities.
The assurance was carried out on the project at different stages to inform the analysis of project performance at different delivery phases.
But 5 of the 23 Assured Project, like the Busolwe Hospital, were still in the design or procurement phase.
The scope of the 4th Assurance exercise included PE websites, project signs, newspaper pull-outs, Radio and Tv talk shows as well as stakeholder engagements.
- PPDA is encouraged to monitor compliance, enforce local content and reservation schemes.
- Government through the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority is encouraged to issue a standard disclosure template for public infrastructure projects.
- The Ministry of Finance through the PPDA is encouraged to speed up the implementation of the Electronic Procurement Portal (EGP)