By Kabuye Ronald
One of the biggest problems Uganda government agencies and ministries are still facing is public failure to embrace the projects meant to benefit various communities.
According to over 30 people we interviewed in various areas of Kampala central division, Ndejje in Makidye Ssabagabo Municipality, Nansana Municipality, Luweero district and Makidye Division they attributed the cause to failure by the responsible government offices to sensitize and transparently engage public in all the project processes especially by disclosing the money to be injected in the project and the procurement methods used.
20 of the people interviewed clearly stated that government officers deliberately keep the public in the dark in order to embezzle the funds thus public losing trust in government due to the substandard works done.
Wakiso district Engineer Sam Mwesigwa, has on several interview with various media houses stated that in road construction projects where they have fully engaged and interested the residents about the same, they have been accorded full support to the extent of residents giving in land for road extension without demanding for any compensation for the good of development.
This was further emphasized by the minister for Works and Transparent Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala at the National Baraza, where Cost Uganda launched the 3rd Assurance Report when he stated that lack of project cost disclosure creates suspicion among the public.
Gen. Katumba said that infrastructure projects are critical to national development and much expenditure is extended to key projects yet design and execution of these projects has faced a number of challenges among which include; corruption, inefficiency and secrecy which undermines performance and value for money.
He thus pledged to spear head a campaign together with Cost Uganda to ask the Prime Minister to prevail over the government entities including ministries to a appreciate the need for disclosure project cost to public.
The 3rd Assurance Report was published by Cost Uganda at a National Level Baraza following a nine months-long period of engagements, follow up, verification and validation of data and site visits on the 13 projects under the 5 Procuring and Disposing Entities in Uganda. The Government institutions involved included; PPDA who recommended the 13 projects, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Ministry of Water and Environment and UNRA.
The 13 projects subjected to the CoST Assurance Process are worth Uganda shillings 246,245,037,985 Billion or USD 74 Million
The findings show Low levels of the disclosure, Time and cost overruns by some projects, majorly attributed to scope changes, Poor and sometimes lack of evidence of procurement files. Poor planning and construction site management challenges and lack of ownership of projects amongst the public and projects still termed to belong to the Government.
The report further indicated that pro-active disclosure was at 43% and reactive disclosure was at 42% making the overall disclosure at 43%. Low disclosure was attributed to delays in data retrieval and refusal to disclose data by some of the procuring entities. Ministry of Education and Sports initially, for instance, declined to disclose information reactively but later reconsidered and granted access to records. However, this happened after the data retrieval exercise had ended and the information was not included in this report.
the Assurances recommendations include;
- Regular update of procuring entities’ websites to enhance proactive disclosure, preferably considering the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard.
- PPDA should provide guidelines on disclosure of infrastructure project and contract data preferably using the CoST IDS.
- PPDA should monitor and enforce compliance of existing disclosure standards and requirements.
- Procuring Entities should strengthen the supervision of works to avoid delays in implementation.
- Contract Managers should ensure that contractors and consultants have risk matrices in order to ensure that provision is made for risk management.
- Procuring Entities should require contractors and consultants to make use of environmental management and decommissioning plans and have these documented in their progress reports.
- Contractors and Consultants should adhere to waste management plans, ensure the safety of construction sites and maintenance of access roads.
- Oversight bodies such as Auditor General, PPDA, the Inter-Agency Forum, Parliament among others should monitor the delivery of infrastructure projects at all levels to ensure quality and timely implementation.
- Procuring Entities should consider the inclusion of women and youth in all levels of project delivery. Consultants and contractors should be required to report on gender considerations in their quarterly reports.
- Procuring Entities should consider disclosing data related to managing relationships with stakeholders in the projects’ delivery processes.
- Procuring Entities are encouraged to engage citizens to contribute towards the periodic maintenance of completed projects, this should be complemented with continuous citizen awareness meetings.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Health was awarded the CoST Uganda 2019 Infrastructure Transparency Award for exceptional commitment in adoption & promotion of CoST approach of; Disclosure, Assurance, Multi-Stakeholder Working, and social accountability.