KAMPALA – Majority Ugandans do not know how details of the biggest government expenditure on infrastructure projects. According a study report by CoST Uganda, the public is not aware how 70 percent of Uganda’ budget (Shs28 trillion) is spent.
“Our people do not have details of projects like roads, power dams and railway construction where government is investing heavily. The public should be involved from the beginning process of planning. This will help to avoid shoddy works because the locals can monitor these projects,” said Mr Nathan Byanyima, the chairman CoST Uganda.
The public should know the cost and duration of the project among other details, Mr Byanyima told journalists in Kampala on Monday April, 29th 2019
He further explained, “The public have are concerned with the lack of inadequate consultations especially on centrally planned public infrastructure works, inadequate engagement on the delivery of these public infrastructure works and public works disrupting businesses.”
He added, “The construction works in some cases leads to the destruction of property that is in often not compensated. There is also inadequate display material on project sites and the use of languages, such as English, that is not easily comprehended by all easily, among others.”
The concerns are citizens perceptions of public infrastructure works in the country in the recently concluded CoST Uganda national survey exercise.
“The survey was intended to measure citizens’ levels of satisfaction on the way public infrastructure works in Uganda are delivered. This study was commissioned in October 2018 and was concluded in April, 2019,” said Olive Kabatwairwe, the CoST Uganda Programme Coordinator.
The study also aimed to collect feedback from selected procurement entities on CoST Uganda interventions over the last two years. The study took place in Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja and Gulu Districts.
“The study also identified good practices in relation to infrastructure transparency and accountability. It is also aims at transparency and accountability in public infrastructure projects can be improved, and how the CoST approaches of disclosure, assurance, social accountability,” she added.
It was also learned that some public procurement entities had improved on their disclosure levels of information, noted Ms Kabatwairwe.
“The steps taken to improve this included the set-up of electronic formats such as websites, social media accounts, toll free feedback lines and more presence in the media, despite about two thirds saying this was not enough,” she said.
In a statement issued more respondents in Gulu district (53.8 percent) were aware of the standard procurement procedures compared to those in Wakiso and Jinja districts.
“There is a good amount of effort to display procurement information especially on notice boards and there are efforts to encourage citizens to attend the opening of bids documents especially for local government projects where interpreters are provided for those not fluent in English,” it reads in part.
The CoST initiative of engaging stakeholders in the infrastructure projects is also increasingly becoming popular among the stakeholders interviewed at both district and national levels.
Sixty-two key informant interviews were conducted with public procurement entities in Kampala, development partners, district local leaders, private sector, government ministries, civil Society organizations, the multi-stakeholder group and the media
Ms Kabatwairwe called on government, to engage citizens through their local leaders to build their trust and appreciate public infrastructure projects
CoST – An Infrastructure Transparency Initiative is aimed at improving citizen’s lives through promoting the use of the infrastructure data standard for information disclosure, assurance, multi-stakeholder working and social accountability.
CoST Uganda is a national chapter of CoST International a charity based in the United Kingdom. The initiative is built on a tripartite partnership between government, private sector and civil society to address the challenges in the construction sector in Uganda. CoST Uganda is championed by the Ministry of Works and Transport and guided by a multi-stakeholder group of nine people and one observer who lead, plan, engage together to build trust, transparency and accountability amongst the three sectors. In Uganda, the Initiative is hosted by Africa Freedom of Information Centre; a pan African NGO that promotes access to information and open contracting across Africa.