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Why Police should be interested in Kasese OPM relief scandal

PM Nabbanja was recently in Kasese to check on the situation of the Ugandans affected by the floods. She rejected several poor quality relief items.

Kasese OPM relief deliveries: Could it be syndicated or associated crime?

COMMENT | Samson Tinka | Last week Uganda’s new Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja had gone to Kasese for official duties that included officiating on the handover of relief supplies to flood victims. To her dismay the items procured by her own ministry turned out to be “substandard” for lack a better word. I think if I call them unfit for human use, I would be rather right. Prime Minister rejected out rightly the deliveries and instructed that they should be taken back to Kampala. These items included beans, blankets, and mosquito nets among others.

In Prime minister’s office, with such highly qualified technical teams, how could such shaming, rotten, substandard, fake, unfit items find themselves in Kasese. To understand this question, let’s look at the process that normal government procurement goes through.

Seven areas are part of the tendering process for government supplies and these include,

  • Notice published calling for potential suppliers
  • Submission of bids
  • Opening of bids
  • Technical and financial evaluation of the bidders
  • Tender /contracts committee reviews submitted evaluation reports
  • Report of successful bidders submitted to PPDA and Solicitor General for review and approval
  • Successful bidder notified.

The process above is protracted, bureaucratic and long and this is designed like this to ensure that all tabs are firm and no loophole in the tender, purchase or supply process. The whole ecosystem is manned by the best of the best since we all appreciate the recruitment process that one goes through to get a government job.

Therefore, you have along water tight tender process manned by the best brains meaning that the outcome of these two processes should be excellent.  If so, when then is the Kasese deliveries case a complete opposite of this?

In fact, if a primary six graduate trading in Kamwengye was asked to deliver 45 tons of fresh beans “Namabale Omumpi” you have 99% chances of getting exactly what you ordered for in terms of tonnage, packing, quality, and all in the right time.

Kasese saga looks like an associated or syndicated crime

As shown already, such procurements goes through numerous approval processes which would ideally detect, stop and avoid any procurement short fall. For example, prospective suppliers are asked to submit samples of what they are going to supply. Secondly such purchases have terms and conditions and these include product specifications these include, size, colour, grade, texture, grammage, weight, packaging ,manufacturer, expiry date.

The product specifications clearly state what’s expected of the suppliers and short of that, the product or service will be rejected or liability clause effected. There also terms and conditions of procurement including expected delivery time, delivery place.

On delivery date, a number of people must receive the procured items and these include, stores person, procurement member, security staff, auditor, someone from the requesting department, quality control department representative. All these members carry along a copy of award letter that was given to the supplier or contract agreement or local purchase order-LPO. All these documents carry the full product specifications.

The only justification is this syndicated or organized crime. Under these two similar crimes, the would be maker-checkers connive with the supplier to under value, supply low quality, substandard or less products so that the balance is put in monetary value and cashed out. It’s very common especially in procurements that involve high value supplies.

There is no way stores officer missed this, and the auditor or even the security person. Money must have exchanged hands. So at operations level, the whole team mentioned above must detail their input towards the delivery and receiving of these supplies.

The supplier question

The supplier, who earned the contract and has the LPO, must not only answer for this but put on paper as to why they delivered what Nabbanja considered rubbish.  PM office should immediately register a case with police because this is a very good one. You have the suspect, the exhibit in case of poor quality supplies, the witnesses, delivery truck person, off loaders, loaders, stores person…. all these parties can give collaborative evidence to warrant sanctioning of the file.

The contract that has been breached is also there and it spells out the specifications.

Any magistrate or judge should easily put away this case with a conviction without difficulty. That would be justice for the people of Kasese.

Kasese people, who were the intended beneficiaries, continue to sleep hungry, in the cold, suffering mosquito bites and all. This time it’s not because of lack of funds by government but because government workers failed, sabotaged and frustrated right procurement of needed items. This means the government “etuyambe” cries continue. When actually government committed the required resources but some individuals decided to amplify Kasese resident’s cries.

What should follow then?

Immediate prosecution of suspects in this black and white fraud should commence. There is no justification on how the whole procurement ecosystem was caught flat footed. This is associated crime and remember similar cases in the same ministry have been rampant.

Government continue to lose both financial and reputation costs. Politically, it’s hard to repair damage in such incidents.

The supplier should also be subjected to the court processes on top of blacklisting him from future government supplies. It is also high time such relief projects are channeled through reputable NGOs like UNICEF. They are specialized institutions on relief supplies.

Even local suppliers can do better. If this procurement was channeled through local government of Kasese District, certainly better supplies would have been delivered.

For blanket and mosquito nets, dealing with manufacturers would be the better option. Avoiding middle men solves the question of time lags, price element and product quality aspects.

This case should prompt investigation of other deliveries in the ministry. A case involving the ministry’s  PS and other big official is still fresh in Ugandans’ minds and ongoing in court.  I have hopes in Nabanja and don’t relent until you streamline the most important ministry in terms of government service delivery.

To Uganda Police and other security agencies , know you being watched and hopefully you facilitate this case to logical conclusion. Because all you need to have the suspects dance in court is readily available in the various procurement and supply documents.

The struggle continues.

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 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd tindsam@yahoo

 

 

 

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