UNRA Paid Shs 30bn to Dott Services for Non-existent Equipment

Peter Kirimunda, the Director of Internal Audit at UNRA appearing before the probe committee on Wednesday

Time check is 7:45 am on Wednesday when I arrive at Mengo Secondary School – one of Uganda’s oldest education institutions in Kampala.

A teacher at the gate is ordering the gateman to lock out all late comers.

With shoes covered by a coat of dust and shirts soaked in sweat, adiposity the students are visibly depressed by the uncompromising teacher’s orders.

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Meanwhile, approved I ask the gateman to direct me to any official who could be in position to giving authoritative information about one of the students who had just committed suicide.

The gatekeeper reluctantly directs me to the Headmaster’s office after registering in the visitors’ book.

However as  I continue with my maiden visit to the school that recently held colourful Centenary celebrations, mind I find groups of students in the compound speaking in hushed tones about  the shocking suicide incident.

The students are visibly disturbed that one of their colleagues could take his life by the rope.

“Why could he do that? What if he had talked to us or even the teachers about his problems?” the students murmur.

In the Main Hall, a school assembly is underway. From a distance, one can easily listen to a male voice loudly urging students to “share your problems with friends and teachers for guidance.”

At the headmaster’s office, several students and parents are waiting in the lounge overlooking a well trimmed green lawn in the school compound.

It’s not long when the Headmaster comes out of his office only to realise that there is a student seated next to me.

“Are you fine? Don’t commit suicide like your colleague,” the school head tells the student who appears to be struggling with a sea of thoughts. A similar statement is uttered by another teacher on her way to the Deputy Head master’s office.

Meanwhile, my turn comes to talk to the Headmaster. As I introduce myself, the man tells me of how his school was full of journalists the previous day and insists he was not willing to talk to pressmen any more.

However after persuading him, he accepts to refer me to his deputy in charge of welfare who also acts as the school’s Public Relations Officer.

“You know the news of the death of our student left the teachers, parents and fellow students traumatized. News men (read journalists) should know what we are going through now. They should not apportion blame on anyone be it the parents because this will not be useful as far as returning the life of the student,” says Fred Kazibwe, the headmaster.

I try to request that he allows me talk to some of the students and the class teacher of the deceased student in vain. He insisted I pick an official statement from the PRO.

What Exactly Happened?

I meet a fairly brown lady who introduces herself to me as the Deputy in charge of Welfare though she insists on not divulging her real name.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), at around 6:00 am we got a call from parents that one of our students Sheldon Twesigye from Kawempe Lugoba had committed suicide,” she states.

After consultations, I identify the PRO as Dorothy Kiggundu.

“As the policy here, the Headmaster rushed to the scene to confirm and see what had exactly happened.”

She reveals that Twesigye had just spent only one term at the school from Kings College Buddo and was in his senior one.

When tasked to explain whether they had known reason for changing school and whether they had laboured to inquire if everything was right with Twesigye from both his parents and fellow teachers, Kiggundu observes the boy was an introvert who could not speak about his life.

“The 12-year-old boy was so reserved that he never shared anything with his friends.”

Twesigye’s motionless body was found hanging by rope tied on a tree in the school’s neighbourhood.

He was neatly dressed in school uniform. It is clear that the school does not offer guidance and counselling support to its students.

Meanwhile, one of the students tells me he had seen Twesigye once but had heard about the deceased being depressed.

“He had for so long wanted to commit suicide and this forced his parents to change him from Kings’ College Buddo to here( Mengo).One of his colleagues said that he always asked them to buy for him poison for he wanted  to die,” the student I had waylaid narrates to me.

However my efforts to speak to other students proved futile as they could not freely speak on the matter.

However, one of the gatemen describes the deceased as “being quiet and never was he stubborn.” Police are yet to speak out on the incident with officials saying the matter is still under investigation.

Causes of suicide

Researchers attribute suicide cases among young people to problems with social networks, negative life events, higher psychological distress and lower quality of life.

Medics say mental health problems may arise from infectious diseases.

According to psychiatrist Emmanuel Rudatsikira, “Loneliness and worry were positively associated with suicide ideation after adjusting for age, gender, tobacco smoking, drinking, and experience of having been bullied.”

He says the dearth of information is likely to be multi-factorial in origin, including in part the global lack of adequate interest in mental health research in general and limited funding.

“Many of the health systems in southern Africa are engaged more in the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases and not mental health issues,” he argues.

“Even in developed nations, suicide among children has been a neglected issue until recently.”


Many people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide. Too often, victims are blamed and their families and friends are left stigmatized. As a result, people rarely communicate openly about suicide.

Thus, an important public health problem is left hidden in secrecy, which hinders effective prevention.

Protective factors buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Some of the protective factors researchers identified include skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes.

Others are effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders; easy access to various clinical interventions and support; family and community support (connectedness) and cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support seeking help.
The Director of Internal Audit at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), order Peter Kirimunda was on Wednesday tasked to explain to the probe committee why the entity continued to lose money under his watch.s

In an audit carried out in June 2011 several inconsistencies were discovered in the Tororo – Mbale, Mbale – Soroti road project.

Among them were delayed procurement due to administrative reviews and issuance of contracts without detailed designs.

The probe committee learnt that in October 2010, Dott Services was contracted to do supervision yet it did not have equipment and personnel as required.

Dott Services was at the time doing works on 3 roads; Jinja – Kamuli, Tororo – Mbale and Mbale – Soroti.

The bidding documents required that the bidder provides different equipment and personnel for different contracts to prove their capacity.

However, in the findings of the 2011 audit, out of the 12 staff indicated on bidding documents, none was on ground. Vehicles and other equipment were also missing.

At the time of bidding, the evaluations committee discovered the gaps in Dott’s bids and recommended that another bidder be considered.

However the Acting Executive Director at the time Eng. Ssebuga Kimeze waived this and Dott Services was awarded the contract.

Kirimunda argued that this was the responsibility of UNRA through the resident engineer.

On top of that, the contractor was paid extra Shs 30bn in prolongation costs for idle equipment – which equipment was not there.

Flouting rules

The commission also learnt that 80 percent of the payments made to Dotts Services were in foreign currencies, going against the Attorney General’s position.

In the period between contract signing and payments, inflation had appreciated the dollar and the Euro which meant that UNRA would pay much more.

“The department of audit does not stop payments once they have been initiated. Our role is advisory to the management but not policy implementation,” responded Kirimunda.

The Assisting counsel to the commission, Mary Kamuli Kuteesa further queried the Director of Internal Audit as to why UNRA staff were using construction money for trainings abroad.

In a letter to the MD Professional Engineering Consultants by the UNRA ED, he requested that Eng. Godfrey Mukasa Kaaya be facilitated with USD 14,504 for a training seminar in USA.

“You failed in your critical role of identifying internal gaps. Can you say you did your part yet all these payments were going the wrong way?” asked the counsel.

The witness however claimed that the department was overwhelmed by work load and it wasn’t possible to investigate every detail.

“Internal audit had only 3 staff at the time but even then we managed to issue 3 reports. We couldn’t go over every document for the over 50 projects,” said Kirimunda.

Kirimunda emphasized that his audit findings were persistently ignored by the Executive Director Eng. Ssebbugga Kimeze.


Eng. Godfrey Mukasa who was the regional manager (East) under whose supervision was the road in question left UNRA mid this year following a mass restructuring that saw 80 other staff leave.

Upon her appointment as UNRA ED, Allen Kagina pledged to open up the entity to the public to facilitate accountability.

The commission of inquiry into the roads Authority was ordered by President Museveni in June to investigate the corruption, abuse of office and mismanagement of funds by UNRA.

The committee was tasked to come up with a report with the recommendations to the President.

In September, the President extended the probe to three months following a request by the committee for more time to cover a wider scope.


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