JINJA Uganda. A row over a purportedly fraudulent road tender is threatening to derail the rehabilitation of the roads in Jinja Municipality, The Investigator can reveal. Sometime last year, the Jinja Municipal Council advertised for tenders for the rehabilitation of the Main Street (1.6KM) and the Eng. Zikusooka Way (0.8/3KM) among others.
According to the bid documents seen by The Investigator a total of over 10 firms bided. The few shortlisted ones included: Grindstone Ltd, Rock Trust Uganda, Chongping International Construction Corporation, Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd, China Railway 18th Bureau Group Co. Ltd, Spider Contractor Ltd- Rhino Investments Ltd (JV), Traminco U) Ltd? Traminco SARL, Star Group (from South Sudan) and Multiplex Uganda Ltd.
According to our investigations, though the tender was finally awarded to Stars Group from South Sudan, the other parties were not contented with award, citing foul play.
We can authoritatively report here that the works on Main Street and Zikusooka way in Jinja Municipal Council has stalled due to the bickering and the subsequent petition to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA). According to plans, the said roads were due to be completed in August 2017.
What is happening?
The latest we have is that one of the firms, Multiplex Limited has petitioned PPDA seeking for a administrative review in respect to the tender for rehabilitation of Main Street and Eng. Zikusooka Way.
The Investigator landed on a letter from PPDA dated November 3 2017, addressed to Grindstone Ltd, Rock Trust Uganda, Chongping International Construction Corporation, Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd, China Railway 18th Bureau Group Co. Ltd, Spider Contractor Ltd- Rhino Investments Ltd (JV), Traminco (U) Ltd? Traminco SARL and Multiplex Uganda Ltd notifying them of an application seeking to review the tender.
“The Authority received an application for Administrative Review from Multiplex Limited, Alshams (JV) citing irregularities in the tender for rehabilitation of Main Street and Eng. Zikusooka Way,” stated Benson Turamye the acting PPDA Executive Director.
‘In accordance with section 91 of PPDA Act, of 2003, you are notified of this complaint and instructed to file with us any relevant information you may have on this procurement not later than Thursday 9th November 2017,” added Turamye. “In the meantime, the procurement process has been suspended while authority reviews the tender process to ascertain allegations.”
What went wrong?
In the 13 October 2017 petition to PPDA, by multiplex (That we obtained), Multiplex through their lawyers, Tusiime, Kabega and Co Advocates noted that the application was not valid because there was no payment of the prescribed fee in the PPDA guidelines, as required under the Local Governments (PPDA) Regulations, sector 138 (3).
They submitted that Jinja Municipal Council (the procuring entity) should have requested Multiplex Limited to substitute its payment so as to align with a payment method, the procuring entity it considered valid and/or preferred.
The lawyers noted in their petition that there was additionally never any method availed to the bidders by the Procuring entity in the instructions to the bidders.
On July 3 2017, Jinja Municipal Council, the procuring entity, accepted an Administrative Review Application by Multiplex Limited- Alshams (JV) which was accompanied by a cheque of Ug. Shs10 million.
Did money exchange hands?
The tender, to the tune of US$ 4 million (Ug Shs14.2b) is rather a juicy one indeed. The Investigator failed to establish the allegations that the Jinja Town Clerk was bribed by the South Sudanese firm, Stars Group that was awarded the tender. Efforts to get a comment from officials of the Stars Group were also futile as our message remained un-replied.
What we discovered rather was that Stars Group was incorporated in 1981 in South Sudan. Their website (www.starsgroup_ss.com) reveals that the firm has been in construction since then with major works done in Lebanon, Beirut and Afghanistan totaling over $30million.
What looks “fishy” though is that Plateaux, one of the firms that had earlier bidded for the same road works in Jinja and was rejected, is actually under the Star Group, the one that bidded later and won the tender. In the website this is what welcomes you.
STARS GROUP LTD its incorporation in 1981 and its a mother company for Plateaux Services Co located in South sudan ,O’ general For lubricant located in Dubai and Stars Company located in Lebanon . has grown and developed to become an established and recognized company in all sectors of the build- ing and road industry. Projects completed over the past 31 years, ranging in value of $1m _$30m.
The designs of the roads in Jinja were carried out by M/S Silesh Consult with M/S SABA Engineering from Ethiopia.
Eng. Zikusooka Way is one of the impassable roads with huge potholes in Jinja town which motorists had abandoned.
Instead, it is being used by heavy truck drivers for parking while taxi drivers utilize it for repairing their vehicles with garbage skips placed in the middle of the road.
It was once gazetted to temporarily house vendors of Jinja Central Market at the time the main market was being constructed.
The roads are to be constructed under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID). Jinja is part of the 13 other municipalities that have benefited from USMID.
The municipalities include Gulu, Hoima, Mbale, Entebbe, Lira, Fort Portal, Arua, Lira, Moroto, Soroti, Kabale, Masaka and Tororo.
The Jinja Municipal engineer, Saeed Muhammad, declined to comment on the cancellation of the tender awarded to Stars Group, similarly the Town Clerk too.