By Christopher Kiwawulo
The procurement of a firm to implement digital migration for greater Kampala was marred with flaws, a Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) investigation has revealed.
The evaluation process in which Harris Corporation USA won the $2.7m (over sh7b) contract to implement digital migration for greater Kampala was not conducted in accordance with the requirements of the solicitation document, investigations showed.
According to PPDA, the best bidder, Harris Corporation USA, was non-compliant in some technical specifications like the cooling and heating system. It was discovered that Harris offered HV AC (High Voltage Alternating Current) unit of 17,060 BTU/Hr (British thermal unit per Hour) instead of the specifi ed 60,000 BTU/Hr.
Although Harris clarifi ed that the proposed HV AC units were sufficient, PPDA recommended that; “the contracts committee should re-appoint an evaluation committee to re-evaluate all submitted bids and ensure that the technical requirements of the bidding document complied with by all bidders.”
On August 8, 2012, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) appointed Digital Migration Solutions 4 Africa Limited (DEMSA) represented by Johannes Von Weyssenhoff to supervise the implementation of digital migration for greater Kampala at $68,900 (sh177m).
DEMSA was to assist UCC in the process of acquisition of a contractor to establish a digital terrestrial transmission system.
However, UCC proceeded with the legal and technical bid evaluation for a contractor without involving the consultant (DEMSA), contrary to the terms and conditions of the signed contract and yet 30% of the payment was tagged to this deliverable.
On May 29, 2012, the procurement requisition form for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a digital terrestrial television transmission system was initiated by Kenneth Oketta, the Rural Communications Development Fund accounting officer estimated at $ 2.5m.
UCC executive director and accounting officer, Godfrey Mutabazi, confirmed the funding on the same date, the report revealed.
Attempts to get a comment from Mutabazi failed as he did not pick our calls to his mobile phone.
New Vision has also learnt that some members of the evaluation committee did not sign the evaluation report which was contrary to PPDA regulation 171 (10) requiring that the evaluation report shall be signed by all committee members. Committee members including consultant Weyssenhoff, UCC’s Patrick Mwesigwa and UBC engineers; S. K Batanda and Angelo Nkezza did not sign.
The evaluation report was only signed by UCC officials; Meddy Kaggwa, James Beronda, Henry Mugabi, Joan Kyomugisha, Haruna Musinguzi, Elly Ruharo, Bob Lyazi and the head of IT at the External Security Organisation, Herman Nsubuga.
On October 8, 2012 the committee approved the negotiation report with Harris Corporation USA recommending that the item providing for the tower construction and site civil works priced at $531,583 (sh1.3b) be excluded.
“Also 18 more Integrated Receiver Decoders (IRDs) were included on the basis of the unit cost offered. The number of IRDs was increased from 2 to 20 and their corresponding total price revised from $6,300 to $63,000 (each costing $3,150). Subsequent to the agreed adjustments, the total contract price was revised from $2,752,485.84 to $2,277,602.84,” the report observed.
The authority also noted that technical specifications provided by the best evaluated bidder, Harris Corporation USA on the HV AC unit and Mpeg2 encoder should be re-confirmed by the new evaluation committee to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the bidding document.
PPDA asked UCC to adhere to the terms and conditions of the signed contract between UCC and the consultant (DEMSA) in the procurement process.
In April last year, President Yoweri Museveni requested the Auditor general to investigate reports that digital migration costs had been inflated to $75m (sh193b) yet about $11m (sh28.2b) was needed. In his letter to the Prime Minister’s office dated April 16, 2012, Museveni said he had got intelligence that Harris Corporation USA had done the same job in Rwanda at sh30.8b.