USMID Projects in Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Kabale Stalled Under Unclear Circumstances

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The World Bank team together with Mbarara City officials inspect projects it funds.
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A parliamentary committee investigating the stalled Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) projects in Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Kabale has discovered that the Inspectorate of Government (IG) halted Uganda’s support to the projects under unclear circumstances.

The town clerks from the affected municipal councils, however, failed to produce letters backing their claims before the legislators.

The USMID projects, which are funded by the World Bank through loans, were initially supposed to run from 2013 to 2018 but were extended to 2023. The initial phase had 397 billion shillings, which was allocated to 14 programme-participating Municipal local governments for infrastructure development and capacity building.

The Ntoroko MP, Ibanda Rwemulikya, asked the committee to interrogate the IG further on its role in the USMID projects.

“It is unusual for the IGG to give timelines on infrastructure projects,” Ibanda said.

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The reactions about the involvement of the IGG arose when legislators asked town clerks from Mbarara, Kabale and Ntungamo to produce the contracts and progress reports of the works under the USMID projects funded by the World Bank.

None of the town clerks could produce the IGG letters.

Kabale town clerk Jane Barekye said she had received a letter from the IG dated May 15, 2023, asking Kabale to halt charging of liquidated damages. However, she could not produce the letter.

Ntungamo town clerk Isaiah Tumwesigye said he had received the communication from the IG via WhatsApp but could not produce the soft copy.

According to Barekye, Kabale had paid some money to the contractor, Multiplex Ltd – Detaco, which was also awarded the contracts in Mbarara and Ntungamo.

Rukiga County MP Roland Ndyomugenyi was bothered by the discrepancies in the figures submitted to the committee.

“She is telling us that they achieved 33 per cent physical completion yet the document we have says 47 per cent completion,” Ndyomugenyi said.

The legislators also discovered that the contracts in Kabale had expired yet payments continued.

“When you see 9.9 billion shillings that was paid out of the 22 billion shillings, this is like 45 per cent of the money yet the physical progress here is 33 per cent,” Ndyomugenyi said.

Barekye confirmed that the consultant had been paid.

“This is time-based contract,” Barekye said.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Dorcus Okalany, refused to sign the documents after realizing the discrepancies. Isaac Mutebywa, the Program Coordinator of USMID, signed the documents instead.

Minister of State for Urban Development Obiga Kania said someone must own the documents since the lands ministry supervises USMID projects. However, he could not produce the contracts requested by the committee, saying there were communication gaps prior to the meeting.

“The contract documents are with the local governments and they should be submitted by the local governments,” Obiga said.

The local governments also had back and forth, saying the same documents are with the lands ministry.

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