todayFebruary 21, 2024

By Godwin Abedican


Since the site handover of two sites on river Enyau in Arua district and City to Niem establishments limited on 4th October 2022 to undertake an 8 months project for the construction of two bridges worth over five billion Ugandan shillings with funding from the government of the republic of Uganda and support from the World Bank under USMID-AF in the financial year 2022/2023 the works at the two sites have since stalled.

This delayed completion of the twin bridge projects seems to be generating disagreements among leadership of the two administrative units.
With Arua district as the custodian of the two projects after which whose completion the district is supposed to handover Enyau 2 bridge to the city, the city has vowed not to accept any handover of an incomplete project

Speaking during an engagement organized by National Physical Planning Board on Monday 19th February 2023, presided over by Hon. Mario Obiga Kania, the Minister of state for Lands Housing and Urban Development, Sam Wadri Nyakua, the mayor Arua city while presenting the state of the works on the projects revealed that a lot of fishy things are going on in the project. “These are projects that were initiated under the district and they are responsible for the supervision. Initially there was supposed to be a component of a tarmac road of 500 meters on either sides of the two bridges.

Later on, they said the money for the tarmacking is not there, but a first class murram road will be constructed, now we are hearing that even the money for the murram road is not there. I think they want to eat the money. For me am not going to receive the bridge and I will cause a very huge political problem over this,” Nyakua vowed.

Following the Mayors submission, Minister Kania, ordered for an immediate action to ensure the contractor is summoned to explain all the allegations ongoing about the project. “We have the power and authority to summon these people to account to us. Why are you not doing it? Now, you engage the city and district, let both sides sit and people who handle money on both sides should come, involve the security and the office of the president through the RDC and RCC such that this issue can be sorted and the project accounted for,” the minister ordered.

(L-R) Alfred Okuonzi District Chair Arua, Sam Nyakua the Arua City Mayor, Amanda Ngabirano Board Chair NPPB listen as Minister Kania speaks.  Extreme right is Jonah Mbigiti Deputy RCC Ayivu division

When contacted about this directive, Geoffrey Okiswa the Resident District Commissioner Arua, promises to intervene as directed by the minister and bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities “Previously the contractor requested for a technical handover which we rejected in writing. This should have been the time for them to do all that is possible. Probably this week or next week we shall be siting to handle the matter. We have also been informed that there was a problem of under quotation of the project which is entirely the problem of the contractor and the numerous extensions must have worked against them due to the change in prices and all these we shall raise in the meeting to clarify appropriately,” Okiswa assured.

Alfred Okuonzi the district chairperson Arua confirms that they had earlier made summons to the contractors but they seem not to abide by whatever is recommended for them. “The CAO is writing a letter to summon them. Probably next week we may sit together with the project beneficiaries. It is true the issue of the road was not part of the contract but they were to do it as a corporate social responsibility. We shall need to hear it from them if they will still be able to do that. The biggest challenge we have in this country is under high breed projects, contractors are allowed to have numerous projects at a time which affects their capacity and efforts on ground and this is a perfect example,” Okuonzi said.

However, speaking to Radio Pacis on phone, Edward Muyingo, the Project Manager for the bridge projects says there have been some contract challenges in these projects that made them halt the works. “We were delayed a bit on some technical decisions related to the contract and road works which is being attended to. We are expecting a communication over that but I think probably by next week we should be back on site,” Edward said.

From the observations made on Tuesday 20th February 2024 at Eyau 2, the site has totally been abandoned with no single worker on ground. At Enyau 1 in Odia linking to Ajono, there were only 5 workers on ground doing the bridge backfilling with hand hoes and according to them, they are the only ones on ground working on the two multibillion sites.

With the initial project deadline being 31st December 2023, USMID has since extended the deadline for all its projects until June 30th 2024 for all their projects to have completion reports submitted and handovers done.

COVER PHOTO: The abandoned Awindiri-Pajulu bridge site By Godwin Abedican

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