The Ugandan government (Parliament) has just approved sh200b as part of Uganda’s contribution towards the DRC Roads construction project whose cost is estimated to be $334.5m (sh1.2tn).
A Ugandan local company will construct the 223km roads connecting Uganda to the Eastern part of the DRC, the media reported recently.
It has also been reported in some media outlets that Uganda has allegedly contracted Dott Services Limited to do the road. The road investment will have a Public Private Partnership (PPP). PPP seeks to deepen involvement of the private sector in undertaking vast infrastructure projects especially those that are commercially strategic.
However construction firms and some Ugandans have expressed concern over handing the huge deal to Dott services against a back ground of their past very bad record on work.
It was also reported in the media that the process is in advanced stages and Dott Services will commence the construction works within a month’s time.
To ensure Uganda, which stands to benefit much more than the mere $60m being injected now, President Museveni has reportedly directed the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija to work with his technocrats to make sure the money is quickly found so that the DRC road projects are delivered expeditiously.
The NPA Executive Director Joseph Muvawala who is charged with Uganda’s long-term development planning said: “there is totally nothing wrong the GoU has done by investing in that road infrastructure project because it’s their responsibility to create an enabling environment for the private sector to export more into DRC and bring in foreign exchange.”
“We as construction experts feel its un fair to award this job/ contract to Dott services, they are record of performance has been bad. The President himself at one time banned them”
Why should they be given this huge project, will they manage since their record has been very bad” the expert said.
A politician in Kampala said “ Dott services should not be given DRC road contract their record has been bad and are there no better and competent firms in Uganda?”.
Several other people talked to in various parts of Uganda were not only concerned that the job would be given to Dott services but wondered why Uganda should build a costly road in the DRC Congo when several roads and other infrastructure has not been done at home (Uganda).
But what makes it worse is that the tax payers money is again given to Dott services to squander in the premise that they are building a road, we know what they have been doing in Uganda” Turyazoka said.
One Kawesa in Kampala said “ Dott services should not been given work except if they work and they are paid for work done other wise we lose money in most projects they are given”.
The security component of the road project
Both the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will offer joint security to the company during the road construction process that is slated to start at the end of this year.
Provision of security was a key component of the bilateral agreement signed between the two countries for the joint construction of the road project which includes constructing the road from Kasindi to Beni (80km), Beni to Butembo (54Km), and Bunagana border to Rutshuru-Goma (89km).
Senior security sources confirmed that Eastern part of DR Congo was a haven for a number of rebel groups including the Allied Democratic Front that was credited with carrying out a series of atrocities at Ugandan border and in some parts of Eastern DRC.
The tarmacked roads, which will be the first of their kind in Eastern parts of DRC will be constructed under a public-private partnership which will see the Government of Uganda contribute 20% of the total construction cost, and the balance will be raised by DRC and the contractor.
On Tuesday (October 20, 2020) Parliament approved sh200b as part of Uganda’s contribution towards the project whose cost is estimated to be $334.5m (sh1.2tn).
The Minister of Works General, Edward Katumba Wamala, on Wednesday (October 21, 2020) noted that they would be soon unveiling all the relevant documents concerning the project to Parliament before the construction process begins.
Construction of the roads is expected to begin in November after the completion of the feasibility studies to determine the exact cost of the road.
Katumba however noted that the construction of the road was part of plans by the Government of Uganda to boost trade between the two countries.
While speaking during the 58th Independence Day celebrations President Yoweri Museveni said, the construction of the roads seek to boost trade in order to enable Uganda to get resources.
Museveni noted that the proposed roads in DRC would help improve trade and investment between Uganda and the mineral-rich Central African country, when the road projects are finally implemented.
Plans to construct roads in the DRC were mooted in November 2019 when Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi visited Uganda for bilateral business talks held under the theme, “Promoting Bilateral Trade, Investment and Connectivity for Mutual Peace and Prosperity” which were aimed at providing a platform to the business communities from the two countries to share experiences.
Sources privy to the discussions over the project noted that one of the concerns raised was the issue of limited roads connecting towns on the other side of the border to the Ugandan border which had made travel difficult especially in the towns like Rutshuru, Goma, Butembo, Beni, and Bunia which are key towns on the upper eastern end of DRC.
DRC is one of the key export markets for Uganda. In 2018 Uganda’s export to DRC stood at $533m with formal trade standing at $221m while informal trade stood at $312m.
Issues of Dott Services Limited Over Shoddy Work
Dott service Ltd came under attack when a person died along the Mbale-Tirinyi-Iganga highway, after a passenger service vehicle was swept away by a heavy downpour.
The affected vehicle then was travelling along a diversion beside one of the three bridges under construction by Dott services Ltd , as part of the rehabilitation project for the 102-kilometre highway, when the bridge and diversion gave way under the weight of the fast-flowing water.
Because of such shoddy work President Yoweri Museveni blocked Dott services from getting new contracts but waved the ban later.
The same construction company was at the time implicated by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission of inquiry into mismanagement of the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), and recommended it should be blacklisted until it has sufficiently answered for its previous poor record.