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PPDA regulations flouted in Entebbe Airport contract award

COSASE chair Joel Ssenyonyi (L) and his vice, Lucy Akello during the meeting.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has discovered that procurement regulations in the award of the US$200 million contract for the expansion and upgrading of Entebbe International Airport were flouted.

In 2014, Government through Ministry of Works and Transport contracted China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), a Chinese firm to expand and upgrade Entebbe International Airport to match the growing passenger and cargo traffic.

While appearing before the Committee on Tuesday, 08 February 2022, along with CCCC officials, Levi Musinguzi, the former Assistant Business Development Manager of CCCC, who appeared as a witness told COSASE that there was no tender or bidding procedures followed in the contract award and that CCCC got the ‘contract’ through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ministry of Works.

This according to the committee is in contravention of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) Act that calls for competitive bidding.

Musinguzi said that the contract award arose from a technical proposal that CCCC initiated to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to include the Entebbe Airport project as a linkage to the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway that was being constructed by the same company. It is this same proposal that was adopted by CAA leading to the award of the contract without competitive bidding or any cost negotiations.

“This so called procurement did not go through the entire procurement chain. In procurement, there are two important items that is; tender and bidder documents. But in this particular matter, there was no tender document generated by CAA and Ministry of Works inviting bidders. There was only CCCC,” Musinguzi said.

CCCC country manager, Joseph Zhang confirmed that there was no open bidding in the award of the contract, but was quick to say that a proper binding MOU was signed with Ministry of Works.

He however shocked the committee when he said that whereas Musinguzi is their former staff, he was only in charge of doing general duties such as photocopying documents.

Musinguzi insisted that he signed important documents as a proxy from CCCC during his service from 2011 to 2014. He promised to furnish the committee with all the documents that he signed on behalf of the firm to allay fears that he was simply in charge of photocopying documents.

Roland Ndyomugyenyi, Rukiga County MP called for a forensic investigation into the Entebbe airport contract award saying the Chinese firm fraudulently acquired the contract.

He added that it was equally illegal for CCCC to seek for additional funds amounting to about US$3.4 million for a ‘design and build’ contract.

“This is fraud. You submitted a design and build proposal which is governed by the PPDA Act. So anyone who pays you a single coin in addition to what you asked for will go to jail including you [CCCC officials],” Ndyomugyenyi said.

COSASE chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi observed that it was erroneous for CCCC to sign an MOU with Ministry of Works even before submitting the feasibility study. He wants officials from Ministry of Works and CAA to also be held liable for all the irregularities in the contract award.

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SOURCE: UGANDA PARLIAMENT MEDIA

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