Dear Mr. President!
It is under four days to your inauguration as our President for yet another 5 years. Congratulations are in order for this is no mean achievement! Best wishes too for a fruitful and prosperous term not just for you but for us as a nation.
As you start your new term in office, I want to bring to your attention a story that appeared in the press recently. Speaking at the closing of a meeting of District Engineers from across the country; State Minister for transport Dr.Steven Chebrot said in his own words and I quote; ” Government would ensure value for the taxpayers’ money. The new supplier is competent, professional and has the capacity to supply the heavy road equipment within the specified time. It is unfortunate that it is an extra cost to all of us Ugandans including myself,” This was in apparent reference to the new equipment Government is acquiring for Districts to replace the non functional equipment bought less than 5 years at the cost of US$100m from China!
Your Excellency; this mode of working should not continue in your new term of office! From the Ministers statement, it appears that the supplier of the Chinese was incompetent; unprofessional and lacked capacity. How then did they get a US$100m contract to supply equipment to the Government of Uganda?
I have previously expressed in similar write ups to you, that the whole notion of Government owning equipment and doing road works by its self has been tried before in Uganda and has not worked. There is no reason why we should go that route again because it simply does not work!!
The above notwithstanding, I find it odd that Government could spend US$100m on equipment that is found not fit for purpose and no one is held responsible. The following questions should come to mind regarding the procurement of this Chinese equipment;
1. Was there a contract between FaW China (The Supplier) and Government or was the equipment ordered by word of mouth?
2. If there was a contract, did the contract include a warranty for the equipment or not? If there was; has Govt exercised its rights under the warranty? Who is responsible for this?
3. And if there was no provision for a warranty in the Contract, who is responsible for this gross omission that is costing tax payers so much money? How do you buy equipment for USD100m without any form of warranty?
4. Did the contract include specifications for the equipment or it did not? If it did was there pre and post shipment inspection to check for compliance with the specifications? If inspection was done, who was responsible for it and why did they accept the equipment if it did not meet the specifications?
5. Is it possible that the equipment was poorly specified such that even if it met the specifications it would still not be suited for purpose? Who was responsible for prepping these specifications and why have they not been held responsible?
6. Is it also possible that Government did not have any specifications and the supplier was left to their own device to decide what they should supply? If that was the case; who should be held responsible for this omission?
7. Did FaW just promise to build service centres for this equipment or it was a contractual obligation? If it was a contractual obligation, why have they not met it and what has Government done about it?!
Your Excellency, this and many other wasteful transactions shall seriously impede our steady progress not only in the roads sector but in other sectors as well. It is therefore important that in your new term, persons responsible are brought to book. It is hard to believe that Government, can simply write off USD100m?! There is so much acute need in our country we surely cannot afford such waste!
Contributed by Anthony Mark Mondo via WhatsApp