The MPs argued that the negotiators of the contract ignored the Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) rules and preferred a single source, locking out competition
Infrastructure Committee and a special select committee chairman Robert Ssekitoleko Kafeero Ssekitoleko presents to the House the report on the Standard Gauge Railway project on April 05 2017. Photo by Miriam Namutebi.
MPs advised government to take disciplinary action against individuals that negotiated the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for Standard Gauge Railway project.
Through single sourcing, the project was reportedly awarded to the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) as the contractor at a cost of $2.3b.
However, while debating, the Infrastructure Committee and a special select committee chaired by Kafero Sekitoleko reports, the MPs unanimously agreed that the contract was flouted and therefore Uganda did not get a good deal.
They recommended that it should be reviewed.
The MPs argued that the negotiators of the contract ignored the Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) rules and preferred a single source, locking out competition thus high costs of the project compared to the same projects in other areas such as Ethiopia and Kenya.
"In this deal, I think the people who negotiated the deal let us down. I am informed that certain individuals decided to handle it individually without involving the contracts committee. In the report I have asked the former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Works and other officials to individually take personal responsibilities," Ssekitoleko said.
During the debate yesterday, some MPs pointed out that although the two reports clearly indicate that the procurement process was flouted, there are no actions or recommendations to discipline the individuals involved.
"When an individual or individuals flout the rules, they should be punished. Why is the report so silent about actions to be taken against them? That is corruption," Jack Wamai said.
None of the ministers of Works and Transport was present in the House but Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah insisted that Parliament must debate and pass the report with or without their contribution.
In 2011, the East African Community states agreed on a regional SGR protocol to guide the construction of a seamless network to interconnect all countries in the region.
Uganda's section will move from Malaba to Kampala and then connect to Rwanda through Mirama hills. The line will also connect to the DRC through Kasese and Arua districts.
Currently, each of the EAC states is at different stages of constructing the railway. Whereas Kenya has made some progress, Uganda is still acquiring the right-of way and compensating the project affected persons on the eastern route.
The committee noted that while Ethiopia paid $3.2b for 669km, (Addis Ababa-Mieso-Dewele, with electric traction, Kenya $3.8b for 609km, Uganda plans to pay $2.3b for 273km (Malaba-Kampala).
The MPs feared that the costs could have been exaggerated as a result of "wrong" classification of the network to reportedly Class 1 yet the specifications are actually Class 2 as it is in Ethiopia, Kenya and other African countries operating similar projects such as South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.
Presenting the report to Parliament, Bamwoya wondered why Uganda plans to construct a Class 1 standard gauge when all standard gauge railways constructed in Africa are Class 2 standard.