Uganda National Roads Authority [UNRA] has ignored pleas by so-called “lobbyists” and implemented an executive directive which bars government agencies from working with Dott Services Ltd, a road construction firm.
UNRA, mid-month, terminated the contract of Dott Services, which was charged with the construction of Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale road on basis of shoddy work, according to the UNRA executive director, Allen Kagina.
Dott Services was also implicated by a commission of inquiry into mismanagement of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), which recommended for the blacklisting of the firm.
President Yoweri Museveni ordered government agencies not to award contracts to the construction company, saying an entity under investigation could not take part in government projects.
“I have also received several credible information relating to fraudulent dealings by Dott Services that are not acceptable,” Museveni wrote in his April 21 letter.
Museveni rescinds his decision?
The Observer reported this week that President Museveni had rescinded his order after the attorney general, William Byaruhanga, advised him that the order was “unconstitutional” and could be challenged.
Byaruhanga reportedly told the president that the Constitution does not grant him power to give executive orders, warning that government could be sued, the newspaper reported.
It said the attorney general proposed that in the new constitutional amendments being worked on, a provision for such orders will be included upon which Museveni instructed Byaruhanga to draft something overturning the order.
According to the report, Museveni supposedly said his intention was not to cripple the firm, which depends largely on government, but to send a strong message to companies “which do shoddy work.”
UNRA has not received such an order, implements original directive
On Friday, the roads authority said it was “implementing an Executive Directive issued April 21st, 2017 to all government agencies and Accounting Officers NOT to enter into any contract with Dott Services”.
According to UNRA, an executive order is an instrument of the constitution and one cannot not recall it ‘silently’, it’s only through an official communication.
Venugopal Rao, the chief executive officer of Dott Services, told The Observer, that the company had not been served with the first order.
The lobbyists, as we learnt, are shrouded in a fight now and surrounded in conflict of interest web forgetting that Dott Services is infamous for its sloppy work which is inexcusable by the current UNRA administration and supported by an executive order now.
In April this year, one person died along the 102-kilometre Mbale-Tirinyi-Iganga highway and several others sustained injuries, after a passenger service vehicle was swept away by a heavy downpour in late April.
The affected vehicle was travelling along a diversion beside one of the three bridges under construction, as part of the rehabilitation project for the 102-kilometre highway, when the bridge and diversion gave way under the weight of the fast-flowing water.
Over the last 10 years, Dott Services has come under fire for the way it executed a number of high-profile road contracts, including the 58-kilometre Jinja–Kamuli road, as well as the Tororo-Mbale and Mbale-Soroti roads.
Shoddy work record
Last year, UNRA went to the Commercial Court, seeking to recover Shs29.8 billion it claims was fraudulently obtained from it by Dott Services Ltd, a road construction firm.
UNRA accused Dott Services Ltd and Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC), of conniving to claim the said money as compensation from UNRA for the delayed commencement of the construction of two roads in eastern Uganda in 2010.
Earlier, Dott Services Ltd had sued the roads authority, seeking Shs18bn for alleged breach of contract over periodic maintenance of the Jinja-Kamuli Road.
Dott Services said UNRA conducted a design review of the maintenance project to cater for increased traffic on the road, leading to an increase in the contract scope and time for implementation.
In the UNRA suit, the road agency claimed it signed a contract with Dott Services in 2010 for the construction of the Tororo-Mbale road and the Mbale-Soroti road for a period of 18 months at a cost of Shs30.2 billion and Shs46 billion respectively.
Dott Services instead demanded Shs29.8 billion from UNRA for the delayed commencement of the road construction, claiming that it lost the money in the 509 days they were not working between 2010 and 2011.
After an audit, UNRA found that the money was fraudulently paid to the construction firm since there was never any delay in commencement of works.