Local Contractors Impeding USMID Project Progress, Say Leaders

As the construction projects funded by the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) program near their completion, local leaders are advocating for a review of the contract awarding process. They argue that awarding USMID contracts in clusters is impeding project implementation. Cluster contracting permits a contractor to undertake multiple projects simultaneously.

Stanislause Mangasa, the Town Clerk for Apac Municipality, highlighted an example where Abubaka Construction Company, in charge of a 16-month project, has taken over two years to complete the work. During a project inspection meeting by the World Bank in Apac Municipality, Mangasa emphasized the need to assess contractors’ capacity before awarding contracts to ensure the desired quality and timeliness of road construction.

Mangasa also expressed concerns about the slow progress, fearing that the contractor might not deliver high-quality work. Several projects, all contracted to the same company, in the Municipalities of Moroto, Apac, and Lira City, have seen their contracts extended more than three times.

Leaders voiced these concerns during the World Bank’s project inspection. For instance, Abubaka Construction Company is currently working on three different projects in Apac Municipality, Moroto, and Lira City.

Patrick Ongom Eyul, the Mayor of Apac Municipality, suggested that the government should reconsider awarding multiple projects to contractors despite efforts to promote local contractors. He stressed the importance of local content but expressed disappointment in the performance of many local contractors.

Charles Magumba, Commissioner of Urban Administration at the Ministry of Local Government, urged the contractor to complete the work before the end of construction projects funded by the World Bank.

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Timothy Wasaja, the contract manager at Abubaka Construction Company, cited challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the high costs of building materials as factors affecting project progress.

Phan Huyen, a senior urban specialist at the World Bank, indicated that payments for work done would not be considered after December 2023.

In Lira, Theophilus Tibihika, the City Clerk, stated that the current road work is on track but called on the contractor to increase the workforce to ensure timely completion.

Upon completion, the infrastructure, including paved roads and social centers in Apac Municipality and Lira City, is expected to attract more businesses and boost local revenue in these urban areas.

Currently, the physical progress on ongoing projects under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development in Lira City and Apac Municipality stands at 73% and 85%, with costs of Shs 32 billion and Shs 19 billion, respectively. These projects are scheduled for completion by December 31, 2023.

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