UNRA Cancels Bids for Controversial Kanungu Road project

Kagina inspecting the Kamwenge-Fort Portal road

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has cancelled bids for the construction of the highly politicized Rukungiri-Kihiihi-Ishasha-Kanungu road.

In a letter dated March 29, price UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina wrote to all bidders informing them of the body’s decision to reject their bids.

“This is to inform you that all the bids in the above procurement have been rejected in accordance with section 75 of the Public and Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act 2003, this site ” said Kagina.

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The quoted law provides that “a procuring and disposing entity may reject any or all the bids at any time prior to the award of a contract.”

ChimpReports understands that Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited had been revealed as the best evaluated bidder for the multi-million dollar road project.

However, suspected agents of Dott Services challenged the process in several courts of law, causing delays and chaos in the infrastructure industry.

Officials told this news website that Kagina took action after the “process was badly interrupted.”

Sources in Ministry of Works said the “allegations thrown in courts of law, whistleblower reports to the Inspector General of Government, PPDA and ADB all made the exercise very daunting.”

The fighting has left the future of the project hanging in balance as the people of Kanungu grapple with bad roads.

This website is informed that political activists have since waged a war on Zhongmei in Kanungu, saying it’s not fit for the job.

Dott Services had emerged the second best evaluated bidder. The cancellation of Zhongmei’s contract would mean Dott taking the fatty deal.

Some of the people who have gone to court to block the project are suspected agents of Dott Services, allegations they vehemently deny.

Dott Services has in recent years come under the spotlight over shoddy works in Eastern Uganda especially the Mbale-Soroti road.

Why the road is sensitive

The procurement process was seen as big relief for residents of South Western Uganda who have been grappling with bad roads which have negatively impacted on trade and tourism in the area.

A tarmac road would improve standards of living of the beneficiaries, support the tourism industry and promote regional integration and cross border trade with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya.

The combined total population of the four project districts is estimated to the tune of one million people.

The road project was expected to lead to a reduction in transport costs; increased mobility; improved access to economic and social facilities; provision of clean water to households; and increased income of women vendors in the roadside markets.

African Development Bank which raised over $100m for the road project, said it was addressing a “pressing demand for the provision of good quality and reliable transport infrastructure needed by Uganda for its socio-economic development and poverty reduction agenda.”

Once upgraded, the road will also support cross border trade and regional integration by linking western Uganda with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and eastern Uganda with Kenya at the border of Ishasha and Lwakhakha respectively.

The road would equally support the tourism activities at Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) and Mount Elgon National Parks and increase agriculture productivity.

According to ADB research, the project areas have, on average, a female population of 51.5 per cent.

During operation, the project results were expected to deal with some of the challenges faced mostly by women.

Most importantly, the reduction in travel time will enable emergency cases, including those related to maternity cases, reach health facilities in a timely manner, with the expected 20 per cent reduction in number of maternity emergencies.

Available transport such as mini-buses as opposed to motorcycles would enable girls access secondary schools with a potential for achieving 95 per cent secondary school enrolment ratio female to male.

The improvement of the roadside markets, which are mostly patronized by women (60 per cent), would result in increased income opportunities for women, and contribute to a 30 per cent reduction in transport costs.


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