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Elections, complaints delayed relocation of EC offices: Bukenya

Paul Bukenya, the Electoral Commission (EC) Spokesperson. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Electoral Commission is yet to conclude plans to relocate from its offices at Jinja road to pave way for the construction of the Kampala Fly Over Project. The relocation process started way back in 2016. However, it faced different challenges including a lack of finances to facilitate the process.

Last year, reports emerged indicating that inner fights had stalled the process, something the Acting Commission Secretary, Leonard Mulekwa has dismissed insisting that the delays were occasioned by lack of funds.

Speaking to URN, the Commission spokesperson Paul Bukenya, says that the process was further delayed by the 2021 general elections, which forced the commission to halt the relocation plan to enable them to organise the elections properly.

Bukenya says that after the elections, they resumed the procurement process and received several bids, which they have since evaluated. Unfortunately, he says there were complaints raised by some bidders which required administrative review.

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act provides that a bidder who is aggrieved by the decision of a procuring entity may make a complaint to the accounting officer of the same entity. Bukenya says the Commission was again forced to halt the process to resolve the complaints before moving any step further hence causing further delays.

One of the complaints involves Prof. Godfrey Lule, a physician based in Nairobi, Kenya, who wrote to the president expressing discontent at how the bidding process was being handled by the EC. In a March 7th, 2022 letter addressed to Prof. Lule, President Museveni noted that the professor had a property measuring four acres, which he had included in his bid but that the Commission was looking at acquiring 18 acres at 111 Billion Shillings.

In the letter, the president however noted that the 18 acres are said to be in a wetland and guided that if that’s the case, then Prof. Lule’s land should be preferred. President Museveni hence directed that the relevant authorities at the Commission resolve the matter such that the offices are relocated to pave way for the road works.

Although Bukenya could not give details regarding the complaints since there is an ongoing review process, he acknowledged that the matter had been reported to the Commission and was under review. Bukenya says the commission shall not construct offices but rather acquire an already constructed facility to relocate to.

When the relocation plan started in 2016, the Commission said that Shillings 83 billion was needed for them to relocate or rent office space and storage facilities totalling 39,500 square meters at Shillings 1.5 billion a month. But now Bukenya says they can no longer construct their own structure because they are operating under limited timelines. The commission now plans to spend over Shillings 100 billion to acquire an already developed property.

According to Eng Lawrence Payiro, the head of bridges and structures in Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA, the first phase of the Kampala Fly Over Project is expected to be completed by end of this year. The project is currently halfway complete. This means that the Electoral Commission has to find a new home before the end of the year to allow for the second phase of the construction to start.

The second phase shall start from Mukwano road to the Commission and Centenary Park. Eng. Parriyo says that all the project-affected people who needed compensation have been cleared and hence required to move. The Fly Over Project is the fast of its kind in Kampala. It is intended to improve traffic flow and partly deal with drainage challenges at the Clock tower section, which is the center of the project.

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