Inside Story: How Chinese Contractor Messed Up Musita–Lumino Road Project

UNRA Road Maintenance teams undertaking works on Musita-Lumino/Busia-Majanji road following recent termination of the Contractor

The Shs 206bn contract for the upgrading of the Busia – Majanji Road (104km) from gravel to paved (Bituminous) Standard was cancelled after the contractor fell short of mobilising equipment and accomplishing work within the set timelines, officials said Wednesday.

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) boss Allen Kagina on June 12 terminated the contract of China Railway 18th Bureau (Group) Co., Ltd. (China) which was working on the road.

The project was being undertaken under the National Roads Development and Maintenance Programme (NRDMP) with funding from the Government of Uganda.

The works contract was signed on 13 June 2014 and commencement was on 15 September 2014.

Kagina told locals that the Contractor’s performance was “unsatisfactory” and resulted in issuance of 5 Notices to correct.

As of 31 May 2017 the Contractor’s physical progress was 13.64 percent against a planned target of 90 percent.

Following the failure to comply with the Notice to Correct a 14 day Notice to Terminate the Contract was issued on 26 May 2017 and the Contract terminated on 12 June 2017 in accordance with Clause 15.2(a) of the General Conditions of Contract.

The development has exposed the road contractors’ inability to execute assignments worth billions of shillings.

At the time of cancelling the project, UNRA had disbursed Shs 49bn to the construction firm.

ChimpReports understands the Contractor failed to mobilize equipment in accordance with the resourced work program and as of 30 May 2017, the Contractor’s Plant mobilization was at 76.12 percent instead of 100 percent while the key equipment required for chemical stabilization of the sub-base had not yet been mobilized.

Officials told us the Contractor did not provide Equipment for the Engineer’s laboratory as required under the Contractor’s obligations.

As a consequence no permanent works were executed by the Contractor in the first twelve months

As if this is not scary enough, the contractor failed to provide adequate staffing on the project.

For example, in regard to key staff as required by the Contract Agreement, only 6 out of 13 Key staff were approved on the project.

The key personnel who had been temporarily approved were not performing and a notice to have them replaced had been issued to the Contractor.

This website also discovered that key personnel were taking very long annual leave of 3 – 4 months and leaving unsuited replacements acting on their behalf, thus exposing the project to poor management.

The Contractor also failed to hit all monthly targets in all revised work programs thereby registering continuous slippage in work progress.

Officials said the Contractor did not comply with required contractual standards of Environmental and Social Safeguards.

The Contractor’s Health and Safety record was poor and registered three fatalities on the project, one at the Stone Quarry where a young boy was hit by a flying stone from the rock blasting activities.

Another young man drowned in an unprotected culvert excavation. It also recorded one fatality from a traffic accident.

The Contractor further failed to acquire necessary permits for borrow pits in time and spoils material in non-gazetted areas in total disregard to Engineer’s directives.

Other non-compliances include but not limited to dust nuisance on the road, poor drainage provision on the road and failure to provide access to property, homes, and institutions is evident in some areas along the project road.

These revelations do not only undermine plans to develop rural areas but also hinders the country’s economic growth.

The development also shreds the narrative that Chinese companies are solid, fast and efficient.

Way forward

The termination means the contractor ceased to perform any work and issuing instructions to nominated subcontractors.

The locals expressed alarm following the cancellation of the contract, wondering whether the road would ever be completed.

However, Kagina revealed that restricted bidding process was recommended and Construction firms to bid identified.

She further said the procurement process of new Contractor has been initiated with bidding documents prepared for issuance.

It is estimated that a Contractor will be identified within 4 months.

It’s understood the directorate of road maintenance will be in charge for the periodic maintenance and land compensation process will continue.

“UNRA road development department will have presence on site to continue engaging and updating Districts leadership and communities including conducting engagements and sensitization with land acquisition teams,” said Kagina.

UNRA Client care offices at Mayuge, Nankoma and Lumino towns will stay operational.

The valuation report for the project affected persons was approved by the Chief Government Valuer on 19 July 2016 and compensation payments commenced on 28 September 2016, according to UNRA.


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