Local leaders in Otuke District are growing increasingly concerned about the sluggish pace of construction at Okum Seed Secondary School in Orum Sub-County. This school project, financed by the World Bank with a budget of UGX 2.7 billion under the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfer (UgIFT) program, has faced delays since its initiation.
In the previous year, the contract for constructing the school was awarded to M/S Mesco Ltd. In January 2023, the site was officially handed over to the said contractor, with the initial expectation that the project would be completed by July 2024.
However, during a project monitoring visit on November 1, 2023, by a team from the Directorate of Socio-Economic Monitoring at the president’s office, local leaders raised significant concerns regarding the slow progress of the works at Okum Seed Secondary School.
Isaac Keno, the clerk of works for the school project, confirmed that the site was handed over to the contractor in January 2023. He noted, “The contractor has spent approximately 11 months, which is about 61 percent of the allotted time, and the physical progress, according to my calculation, stands at about 12 percent.” Keno further added, “When the contractor completes the slabs for all the structures, it will bring us to about 20 percent completion.”
Challenges with the delivery of materials have contributed to the slow progress. Keno mentioned that the slow delivery of materials hampers the work, but efforts have been made to address this issue through engagement with the contractor.
James Bwire Ogoola, the contractor’s representative (site engineer), acknowledged the slow pace of the project and cited “internal weaknesses” as a significant factor affecting progress.
Acting district engineer, Jimmy Marks Alany, mentioned that the contractor had already received an advance payment of UGX 524 million toward the closure of the Financial Year 2022/23.
Simon Akileng, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), revealed that the same contractor is also involved in a similar project in the neighboring Agago District, which has resulted in delays for both projects. Akileng noted, “Now we will pay him from here, he will run to the other side. That is the challenge we are facing.”
John Robert Adiama Ekaju, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), observed that between January and June, the site had been abandoned. However, the contractor later picked up the work and resumed construction.
Beatrice Akello Akori, the Minister of State for Economic Monitoring in the Office of the President, urged local leaders to collaborate effectively to maximize the benefits of government projects.