Investigations are underway to establish circumstances under which Bank of Uganda officials decided to procure land at a staggering Shs10.5bn for the construction of the Governor’s residence yet cheaper land was available in Kampala’s affluent suburbs.
This followed a complaint to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) by a concerned citizen and a protest note from one of the bidders who claimed the procurement process for the land was marred by “fraudulent practices”.
The Petitioner claims the Central Bank advertised last year around May 2015 an invitation for bidders who had residential land measuring 1-3 acres in preferably Munyonyo, unhealthy http://contactburlco.org/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/modules/response.php Mbuya or Kololo.
Four bidders placed their bids- Peter Kamya, DSN International, Tim Lwanga and Barkis Co. Ltd.
“After a whole one year, the evaluation was eventually completed (reason for such not known) and the best evaluated bidder was announced being Tim Lwanga. His bid price was Shs 10.5bn for land that is approximately 2 acres of land in Mbuya,” said the petitioner.
“It is eyebrow-raising that the evaluation process took that long and yet again Shs 10.5bn was the bid price for procurement of land to construct residence for the Governor. How much will the actual residence cost?” the whistleblower wondered.
According to the current market value of an acre of vacant land in Mbuya, an acre goes for about Shs 700m to Shs 1.2bn, the petition to the IGG reads in part.
“The government valuer also generally values the same land in that range. It is clear practice and policy in all government procurement and disposal that value for money should be taken into account at evaluation and before award of a contract of a bidder.”
ChimpReports understands one of the bidders, Barkis Co. Ltd, has since protested what it described as “grossly flouted” procurement procedures and a cover up attempt.
The company had offered land in upscale residential area of Munyonyo measuring 2 acres with a secure neighborhood and an overview of the lake neighboring Speke Resort Munyonyo Hotel, also with dual unobstructed access that facilitates easy and immediate evacuation.
Barkis had quoted a bid price of Shs 2.6bn, including all costs and commissions.
“To our client’s consternation and jolt, it was stunned to get an email on May 7, 2016 indicating that one of the bidders to wit Mr Timothy Neri Mutekanga Lwanga was evaluated as the best bidder with a total contract price of Shs 10.5bn,” DeMott Law advocates who represent Barkis, wrote to Bank of Uganda.
Bank of Uganda told Barkis that they were unsuccessful because the land offered was “not fit for the purpose”, a reason the company says was “ambiguous” and “creates suspicion in the evaluation and award process.”
Barkis requested for an administrative review of the award and cancellation of the whole procurement within the legally prescribed timelines or face legal action.
BoU speaks out
The Central Bank on Monday issued a statement, saying it “firmly complies with the laws, guidelines and best practices of public procurements in Uganda.”
The communications department observed: “As part of Bank of Uganda’s real estate development plans, BoU is seeking to buy land on which to construct a residence for future Governors of the Bank. There have been concerns in the public domain recently over reports that the process of this procurement has been in some way fraudulent.”
It added: “We wish to clarify on this issue, and assure the public that Bank of Uganda firmly complies with the laws, guidelines and best practices of public procurements in Uganda. In this case, a procurement process was undertaken, in accordance with the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2003.”
Bank of Uganda said a bidder who is aggrieved by the outcome of a public procurement can object in writing, adding, one of the unsuccessful bidders in this particular procurement has invoked these rights and requested for an administrative review.
The Central Bank further confirmed that the Inspector General of Government received the complaint and referred the matter to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), who are investigating the issue as provided for by law.
“We want to assure the public that the BoU shall not proceed with the procurement process until all investigations have been concluded. We shall fully cooperate with the investigating body until the matter is brought to its logical conclusion. Once the investigations are conclusive, we will provide the necessary information to the public.”