By Moses Walubiri
The leadership of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has been tasked to explain how it has continued contracting a company long blacklisted by government for incompetence and notoriety for abandoning projects.
Omega Construction, MPs on the Presidential Affairs Committee heard, was blacklisted in 2010 following its botched works during preparations for the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting in Kampala (November 2007).
Reacting to KCCA’s strategic plan to decongest the city through ambitious infrastructural plans, MP Michael Mawanda Maranga, patted curtains on the “irregular” contracting of Omega Construction, tasking the KCCA team led by Security Minister, Muruli Mukasa, to explain the anomaly.
KCCA leadership was at parliament to present the authority’s half year performance (June to December 2013) for the financial year 2013/14.
“This company has long been blacklisted by Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) for abandoning projects which has resulted into financial loss to government. Do you mean to say that you’re working independent of government?” Maranga asked.
The issue of contracting the beleaguered company in utter disregard of PPDA directive was the subject of a recent query in the house, with State Minister for Works, Eng. John Byabagambi, revealing that Omega Construction abandoned a road construction project in Soroti causing government a loss of over sh500m.
However, KCCA Head of Procurement, Doreen Akatuhwera, denied insinuations of contracting Omega Construction fully aware of PPDA directive.
“It’s true, we have found Omega Construction incompetent. We have already cancelled its Kitezi contract, and only two contracts are still running – Black Spot drainage project and Mbogo road,” Akatuhwera said.
“We are pushing very hard to make sure that these two projects are completed,” she added, saying Omega Construction was contracted in 2011 and 2012 oblivious of its breach of PPDA regulations.
When contacted, PPDA Executives Director, Cornelia Sabiiti, could neither confirm nor deny Omega Construction’s blacklisting.
“I need to crosscheck, but what I know is that KCCA recently cancelled one of its contract with Omega Construction,” Sabiiti said, noting that a service provider is usually blacklisted for “fraudulent tendencies and repeated failure to execute contractual obligations.”
KCCA is expending a considerable chunk of its sh199b budget for the current financial year on the Works and Technical sector, giving a number of roads a facelift.
However, the competence of some of its contractors has remained a bone of contention with legislators routinely impugning the tendency to contract companies known for abandoning or delaying projects.
In the same interface, KCCA’s Director Engineering Department, Eng. Andrew Kitaka, revealed that the city authority is in the final stages of introducing a viable public transport system that will see taxis only operate on Kampala’s periphery.
The “high capacity buses”, according to Kitaka, will relegate taxis to Kampala’s outskirts like Natete, Bwaise and Banda “before the end of this year.”
Both Muruli and Kitaka allayed fears of the current players in the city transport business resisting the policy shift, saying that all stakeholders are being consulted.
“KCCA has no intention to invest in transport sector in the city. We encouraging the private sector to show interest,” Muruli said.
Early this year, KCCA ran adverts calling for interested bidders for city bus service, raising questions of how the new arrangement will avoid suffering a still birth like Pioneer Easy Bus.