Tag Archives: museveni

DOTT Services and the rot it represents in Uganda’s Road Sector

In 2011 and 2012, I was engaged in a number of duties that saw me traverse the Eastern region frequently from Busia all the way to Lira via Soroti. On my first trip, I used my private car to carry out the duties and to-date, I regret that decision.

mbale_kumi

Mbale – Kumi road, 2012

I journeyed to Soroti via Mbale and the road was being worked upon by DOTT Services. It had been in a dilapidated state with the company always promising to get things better. Work which should have been completed much earlier was still pending. Potholes had been amplified by the company’s work and many cursed why they had even begun working on the road in the first case. Upon return to Kampala, I had to overhaul the shock absorbers of the car including serious repairs on other related parts of the car. The money spent on these repairs meant that I had made a total loss on the job that took me there.

Since that time, I took keen interest in the various projects the company was handling and that is when I also got a chance to check out the Tororo to Mbale Road, Kamuli, Tirinyi roads among others. For civility’s sake, all I can say, DOTT Services is a &%^*&^%$#@)(*&@!$%&* company and can at best be defined as a ČąóɎɮɸɶɱώϑЖЂ service provider (excuse the incomprehensible text, it saves me from falling victim of the cyber harassment clause in the law).

dott_services

DOTT Services Head office in Naguru, Kampala. (I was threatened by the guards for taking this photograph)

I understand when our fountain of honour (President Museveni) visited Pallisa district recently, he got a first hand taste of the rot on our roads. I am glad he did taste the experience.

The president has always wondered why there is a lot of vitriol poured upon him by those that get a chance to talk about service delivery in his Government. So much is rotten that today I want to restrict my discussion to the road sector. With all your good intentions Mr President, even a Primary School graduate could tell as far back as 2011 the incompetence that DOTT Services represented. It was so obvious that when I later traversed Western Uganda by road, driving to Fort Portal via Mubende and later going all the way to Kasese, Ibanda back to Mbarara, I was in awe with the great work done there by SBI International. Why, if indeed these guys were doing a good job in Western Uganda should the Eastern part be subjected to pedestrian contractors like DOTT Services? It is observations like these that make people complain about sectarianism in your Government.

How is it possible that the rubbish that this company has been engaged in all along has kept rewarding them with more business? What message is being sent across to the general public? Each time I interact with other Ugandans, I get the message form them loud and clear that in this country, only thieves and crooks prosper. Is this really what we want our children and grand children to believe?

I thank you for coming out and reprimanding DOTT Services through the executive order you issued. You have done #WhatMagufuliWouldDo and I am very happy. However, as someone who thinks longterm, I believe that these knee jerk reactions, while serving the purpose of waking up the service providers from the slumber also need to be followed up by proper processes and procedures to guarantee continuity.

Mr President, you are not in position to visit all places in the country where road construction is taking place, hence making this act appear to be a one off. You need to reduce on the over centralisation of decision making that has become characteristic of your leadership style. Many civil servants fear to make decisions (even when they are in the interest of the nation) until they know what you think about the matter. This has bred a scenario where quacks pretending to be sent by you are breeding corruption and poor service delivery. I have experienced such loose talk in my home district of Butaleja where the LCV Chairman at one time wanted to sell off the Doho irrigation Scheme to an investor claiming you had sent emissaries indicating that he does so.

You have the power Mr President to break up these cocoons of thugs that are undermining your good intentions of prosperity for all. Behind DOTT Services is a cabal of termites that you need to expose and do away with otherwise you will only be treating wounds on the skin without handling the underlying infection.

I hope you now realise why the general populace seems not to appreciate most of what you are doing. The answer is simple, service delivery is rotten, not only in the road sector but across the board. So rotten that even the well intentioned civil servants can’t do much to make right what they clearly see is wrong.

For God and My Country”

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter.

Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

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Dear President Museveni, As You Swear in, Remember …

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

Museveni, this is how you can solve the Kagingo Problem

The fracas around the management of President Yoweri Museveni’s Social Media interactions has been with us for a while now with stories of infighting among some key staff. What is interesting to note is that the decision to take the President online was well received by the online community and within a short time, the number of followers on the President’s Twitter and Facebook accounts grew swiftly. As of October 29th 2014, the @KagutaMuseveni official verified account has 66,258 followers while the Facebook page has 155,885 likes.

It is thus good to thank whoever had the dynamism in his team to see this social media push through. The fruits are starting to be seen. Unfortunately like is the case with many Ugandan Government related initiatives, whenever an initiative begins to shine, it attracts conflict. We have seen this happen before and are not about to stop. While some may be happy with the fact that the president is now able to relate with all citizens easily using online media, others are probably seeing it as a source of money and hence the genesis of the bickering. Unfortunately, the bickering eventually roped in my good friend Joseph Owino who in a bid to carry out patriotic services (bulungi bwa nsi) was construed as an evil brained hacker and had his movements restricted (arrested) for a while. His situation was the culmination of some unprofessional reporting by a local media house and the lack of comprehension of IT basics by someone that had been entrusted to manage the President’s Social Media image. Her choice to command the arrest of this young Ugandan technology talent reminded me of the ‘panda gari‘ days of Amin and Obote II regimes. Its a pity that she may be too young to realise that she is replaying history.

Mr. President, if I were you, I would take on this Social Media push as follows;

First, I come up with a Social Media Strategy in order to have a clear path on the way forward. When you simply dive into something without much aforethought, you are likely to get the kind of internal cannibalism that is being witnessed in your team. In our street linguo we call it jumping in fwaaa or okugwa mu kidiba. This strategy should allow you to identify the goals, set objectives, identify the target(s), know what the competition is like (opposition in this case), choose appropriate channels (do you opt for twitter and facebook only or even Google+, Instagram etc?), create a content strategy, allocation of budget and other resources (this will prevent the now standard Katosi like budgets that have become typical in Government) and finally assign roles (How many people do you need to run this initiative, what are their roles)

Secondly, I would get professionals (probaby from the private sector) to guide my team on designing the strategy and all this without having to spend obscene sums importing expatriates. I would support the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) strategy and utilise the readily available local resources. I once heard of a training in open source software that was conducted by the Uganda Communications Commission where they imported trainers from Europe sidelining competent and proven local personnel. This should stop and I would ensure there is no repeat.

Finally, I would direct the National IT Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) to come up with guidelines on official use of Social media (in case they haven’t yet done it). These guidelines would then have to be followed by the Social media team at State House and adhered to.

At this juncture, there would be very little to be stressed about. Remember, while Ugandans may tolerate mediocrity the global audience that Social Media platforms expose you to isn’t usually that forgiving. Any small gaffe is likely to soil the already good image that you may have been built.

Adios

Why Uganda Should intervene in South Sudan

I am not fond of discussing politics or military issues but for once I must say that I am in full support of our Government’s intervention in South Sudan. Following the sudden turn of events which seems to have taken the world by surprise save for those of us who have known people that live and trade there, President Yoweri Museveni decided to send troops from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) to intervene.

Reasons being advanced vary and most are accusatory considering that the opposition politicians are making the loudest noise. I for one do believe that this intervention is necessary and timely at that. Why?

I.         Loss of Lives; Judging by the deeply entrenched tribal differences that the two leading entities in South Sudan have exhibited i.e the Nuer and Dinka, there is a very high possibility of ethnic cleansing taking place in that country if war is allowed to proceed unabated. Once beaten, twice shy. In Rwanda, the same happened in the 90s and it was a big lesson for us Ugandans. It was therefore very wise of our president to initiate such a timely intervention to avoid another potential genocide as well as save Africa from having another scar that would give the world a reason to further their doubt in this continent.

II.         Business Protection: For those familiar with Eastern Africa, it is an open secret that South Sudan has been the new market place for all people involved in any form of business. From the white-collar businesses like Financial services and Telecoms to blue collar ones like food vending, auto garages, transport among others. It is believed that there are over 30,000 Ugandans actively living and trading in South Sudan and they contribute a lot towards the earnings of our country. China is being touted as the biggest investor in that country but in my view it depends on what perspective you use to determine ‘Big’. In absolute human impact, I would rate Uganda as being the biggest investor in that country. Uganda earned US$ 1.2 Billion in exports to South Sudan in 2012 and this figure was certainly superseded in 2013. So, once again, the president was right to move in and ensure that we don’t lose it all in South Sudan.

III.         Evacuation of Ugandans: With all the Ugandans that are based in South Sudan, it is only prudent that we do what it takes to save the lives of these fellow citizens. We cant abandon them during their time of need. Today I feel very proud when I see what my Government has done to help these Ugandans on foreign soil. While there might be criticisms on how it was achieved, I believe the end justifies the means. You cant spend time romancing with parliamentarians who are trying to out compete each other in attracting media attention when your citizens are being slayed left, right and center.

IV.         Impact on Agriculture: Uganda is the breadbasket of South Sudan. A good amount of the food supplied in their towns originates from farmlands in Uganda and this as a result led to price hikes in local foods. For once our farmers have been having the last laugh after getting decent offers for their produce thereby encouraging even the elite to join the farming bandwagon. Any instability in South Sudan is likely to grossly impact the prices of the produce from these farms thereby discouraging continued investment in this sector.

V.         Status-Quo: Better the devil you know than the one you don’t know. Uganda paid a heavy price by supporting the SPLA and eventually when South Sudan did achieve independence, we shared in the joy. While South Sudan is a sovereign state, anything that transpires there is our concern because it has implications on the stability of our very nation. We all know how the dreaded Kony and his LRA tormented us for years while conveniently using bases across the border in the then Sudan.

With those five reasons, I believe that our Government did the right thing to move swiftly and I am proud to be a Ugandan at this rate. As for the Parliament, please cut the executive some slack and join them in this worthy cause. Is it bad playing big brother in the region? I don’t think so.

@wirejames on twitter