Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is Wednesday filing its response after Kabale High Court issued an injunction blocking anticipated construction works on Rukungiri-Kihiihi-Kanungu-Ishasha road.
The Deputy Registrar Sam Emokor issued the order barring UNRA, http://cotro.com/wp-includes/class-walker-category.php “its agents and employees from executing a contract with Zhongmei Engineering Group” for the construction of the road.
The news have since angered sections of society as the construction of the road has been long overdue.
Sam Mugabe Tweeted: “As we try to make sure that the Rukungiri-Kihiihi-Kanungu road is done, someone goes to court to stop it. Really?”
He added: “It’s some people’s job to fight development.”
The petitioners claim Parliament blacklisted Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited for dubious works in Uganda and financial mismanagement.
But UNRA argues it’s not aware about the company being blacklisted.
“That the application is speculative and premature in as far as there is no decision taken by a competent Government Office or Authority (PPDA) to suspend or not Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd,” reads UNRA’s defence seen by ChimpReports.
UNRA contends that the procurement process for the Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishaka-Kanungu road is being “conducted in strict adherence to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Regulations.”
The roads authority further argues “that there is a clear procedure under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Regulations for blacklisting and suspension of companies from participation in Public Procurement, which the Applicant does not show as having been complied with.”
Sources have intimated that Zhongmei was named as the best evaluated bidder for the road as is expected to be handed the contract soon.
Interestingly, Dott Services came second in the procurement process.
By fighting hard to block Zhongmei, agents of Dott Services hope that the rival firm will not only be blacklisted but also denied the road contract.
Technically, Dott Services who came second in the evaluation of best bidder would take the contract.
Dott Services’ recent construction works on the Mbale-Soroti road left a bitter taste in the mouth of area residents.
It remains unclear why petitioners chose to sue UNRA from Kabale High Court.
In court today, UNRA will argue that the “mandate to blacklist and/suspend entities from participation in public procurement is only vested in the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).”
UNRA lawyers further insist that “directives/recommendations to the PPDA from Parliament or a procuring and disposing entity, if any, are not directory. They are subject to an independent investigation process by the PPDA, where the affected parties are accorded a fair and impartial hearing before a final decision to blacklist or suspend is taken by the PPDA.”
UNRA has no mandate to blacklist/suspend companies from participating in public procurement.
Lawyers said UNRA has not received any notification or decision from the Parliament or the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority stopping dealings with Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd.
While parliament recently raised concerns about Zhongmei’s operations, it did not issue sanctions.
UNRA lawyers said, “there is no evidence of resolutions of Parliament which should be extracted by the Clerk to Parliament following recommendations made by Parliament. Further, there is no evidence of submission of such resolutions if any, to the Prime Minister as the Leader of Government Business for Executive (Cabinet) consideration and further management.”
A review of the PPDA’s list of suspended providers as at 7th March,2017 on https://www.ppda.go.ug/suspended providers shows that Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited is not on the list of suspended providers.
Legal officials said acting in a manner affecting the rights of Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited without any directives from PPDA would expose the Authority and the tax payer to unprecedented claims and unwarranted loss.
The battles in Uganda’s road construction industry could threaten the future of strategic infrastructure projects. On January 5, 2017, Court issued an Order suspending all dealings between Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd and Uganda National Roads Authority.
However, the same was subsequently set aside on January 17, 2017 .
Government of Uganda recently received a loan from African Development Bank for the construction of the Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishaka-Kanungu road and the same attracts interest. Stopping of the procurement would lead to nugatory costs to the tax payer and the Government of Uganda in interest payments on the loan, if the project implementation is delayed.
Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishaka-Kanungu road is a gravel road and is to be upgraded to bituminous standard.
UNRA officials say considering that the rainy season has commenced, the road users will be greatly inconvenienced and will continue to suffer until the same is upgraded to bituminous standard as planned.
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