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UNRA hits out at ‘malicious’ whistleblowers, clears senior official of fraud allegations

UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina has snubbed Whistleblower reports of conflict of interest in the award of a contract to Chinese companies China Wuyi and China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) (PML Daily PHOTO)

KAMPALA – The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has reacted with consternation to a dossier that was addressed to the Inspector General of Government (IGG), alleging that some of its directors are involved in corrupt tendencies.

According to UNRA, the document is from selfish individuals with the intent to derail the work of the roads authority and tarnish its image.

In January, the IGG directed UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina to investigate whistleblower allegations that Mary Kamuli Kuteesa, the Director Legal Services and Member of the Contracts Committee at UNRA, participated in the award of a contract to Chinese companies China Wuyi and China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) which are clients of her husband’s law firm without declaring a conflict of interest.

The IGG had directed Ms Kagina to investigate the allegations and give a report within 30 years.

And now in a strongly-worded August 11 statement issued by Mark Ssali, the UNRA Head of Public and Corporate Affairs, said their findings had discovered that the allegations were false and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

“It was established that neither Mary Kuteesa’s husband nor any of the Partners in his Law Firm had ever represented or was at the time representing the said Chinese companies involved in bidding for civil works at UNRA,” the statement reads in part.

“It is, therefore, our submission that the stories being propagated by a section of rumour mills are tainted with malice to misrepresent the office of the IGG and to further advance that there is an apparent crisis at the Road’s Authority,” the statement adds.

According to the statement, the investigation has delayed road projects such as Rukungiri-Ishasha road and Busega-Mpigi ExpressWay.

“The said letters and media reports are purely intended to malign and character assassinate persons of good repute, integrity and skill working to deliver services efficiently to all Ugandans.”

In one of the whistleblower petitions, they claimed that UNRA awarded the tender for the construction of the Busega-Mpigi expressway to the fourth lowest bidder, who had quoted more money, instead of the lowest person.

The contract was awarded to a joint partnership of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway 19th Bureau Group Co Ltd (CCECC & CRBGC).

In his June 21 letter, the whistleblower claims that whereas the lowest bidder had given a quotation of Shs390.8b to construct the 23.7km road, the UNRA Procurement Directorate instead gave to one who quoted Shs534.1b, meaning government stands to lose Shs143.2b.

“It should be brought to your notice that it is nearly one year since the UNRA Procurement Directorate opened the bids on 31st August 2017. The top management in UNRA has been frustrating the procurement by imposing on the agency’s Procurement Directorate and Evaluation Committee the 4th lowest evaluated bidder instead of the lowest, eligible, compliant and substantially responsive bidder as the PPDA Act directs,” the whistleblower states in his letter to the IGG.

“Therefore, madam IGG, it is my humble request that you crack the whip as soon as possible and saves the country from this loss because the illegal procurement is inevitable. I have information that UNRA officials are doing this in expectation of a huge financial award from the top officials of CCECC & CRBGC which is high-level corruption that your office needs to stop as soon as possible,” the petitioner adds.

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