The chairperson commission of inquiry into UNRA, more about sale Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has given Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) up to November 16 to have provided a comprehensive solution to the defects on Pakwach – Nebbi road.
In 2001, sales the Chinese firm signed a contract with Road Agency Formation Unit (RAFU) that later transformed into Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to upgrade the 57.3km gravel road to tarmac.
The contract amounted to Ugshs 22.9bn for 4 years. However, soon after the contractor handed over the road to RAFU, it was discovered to have developed longitudinal and traverse cracks, potholes as well as rating in some sections of the road.
Fan Wei, the current Project Manager of CRBC in Uganda who appeared before the commission on Monday was tasked to find out the state of the road.
“Look into details to the complaints and come back to us with robust answers on what you are doing to fix these defects and measures to prevent the same from happening to other projects” said Justice Bamugemereire.
The Pakwach – Nebbi road was designed to have a life of 20 years but 9 years after its completion, it’s in a worse state than before it was tarmacked.
Fan Wei in defense told the commission that overloading and delayed maintenance on the part of RAFU is what cause the road to deteriorate.
“Traffic has since increased on the road due to the economic activity in South Sudan and it has experienced more weight than it was designed to hold” stated Wei.
The team of commissioners visited the road recently and established that the pavement structure was weaker than the one required in the contract.
In addition to that, low quality materials were also used contrary to those specified. A sum of Ugshs 6.7 billion was paid to China Road and Bridge Corporation for layers as per the design but which were never constructed.
British consultancy firm, Parkman which was contracted to do supervision is also faulted for delegating its responsibility of ensuring that the contractor fulfills their obligation.
The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr. Charles Muganzi attributed the failed road to poor quality of gravel, delay in construction by the contractor and disagreement between the consultant and contractor on quality of materials.
“RAFU had the most professional and experienced Engineers at the time. We didn’t find it necessary to micro manage them since we trusted that they would offer the best service” he told the commission.
He also blamed the consultant (Parkman) for certifying a road that was already facing deficiencies adding that; “that was professional negligence and they should be held accountable”.
This week, the commission will embark on investigating the irregularities on Pakwach – Nebbi, Fort Portal – Hima roads as well as issues of land compensation during the Fort Portal – Bundibugyo road project.