NWSC on spot over showdy contracts

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Uganda Auditor General Mr John F.S. Mwanga in an interview at Parliament, Kampala recently.

By Stephen Wandera wanderaouma@gmail.com

KAMPALA, Uganda, The Auditor General has put National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) on spot over faulty procurements guidelines, a clear sign of connivance to defraud billions of tax payers’ money. According to Mr John F. S. Muwanga, the state owned enterprise that operates and provides water and sewerage services for urban centres, has exhibited levels of organized corruption and office abuse.

Entrusted to serve the public on a commercial basis, it has had it coverage grown from three indigenous towns of Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe in 1972 to 174 towns in 2016.

“To match the increasing demands for its services, the corporation focused on infrastructure growth and, has over years implemented various projects with the aim of enhancing service delivery. A value for money audit was undertaken to assess the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the projects implemented by NWSC. The study sampled nine projects, each ranged from Shs1.7 billion to Shs210 billion implemented between 2010 and 2016,” he said.

He further explained, “Based on the procedures undertaken, the audit revealed in spite of the progress made in putting in place the necessary infrastructure to alleviate the increased demand, some of the infrastructure projects experienced delays in project implementation and there were weaknesses in project planning, procurement and construction supervision.”

Design criteria for some of the projects did not adequately address the project needs, underestimated, and excluded some necessary equipment which has led to increased and unanticipated project costs, noted Mr Muwanga.

In the 2017 audit reported to top government officials last week, the designs and design reviews were not clearly documented in three of the locally funded projects.

“It was therefore not possible to review the adequacy of the designs and to use such documents to inform future designs,” it reads in parts. Adding, “The procurement process in a number of cases did not follow competition or significantly reduced competition, as a large number of bidders were disqualified based on technicalities. In half of the projects, works procurement were completed with only a single “responsive” bidder in spite of the contract. This was found in both large (donor funded) and small (NWSC funded) projects, making it a systemic, rather than an isolated problem.”

Mr Mwanga’s report further reads, “In one of the projects sampled, bidders for the projects were disqualified for not identifying the source (countries) for the equipment yet this had not been required in the biding conditions. Due to these, NWSC may not have obtained services at the most economical price.”

He said all projects audited experienced constriction delays of fives to thirty four months resulting into in extension of time and additional cost of Euro 9,324,992.96 and Shs1,334,860,000.

“Whereas justifiable reasons were provided, these should be used as lessons for better planning for better future projects,” Mr Muwanga said.

He listed four of the five locally funded projects whose site records were generally not available or detailed enough while for the completed one was not documented.

“Without records, there is risk that any problem or malfunctions arising from construction works activities would be difficult to determine. There were instances of poor quality works in individual sites resulting from poor supervision. Honeycombs, broken slabs, cracked slender steel tank supports and wraps steel support strips were visually evident on some of the works,” he added.

 

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