UNRA Throws Away sh7.3 BN as Work Ministry also Flushes sh16.3BN in Masaka

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A new report of the Auditor General has unearthed an unnecessary expenditure of funds totaling 23.6 billion Shillings in the Works Sector.

The report for financial year 2019/2020 accessed by Uganda Radio Network-URN was presented by Auditor General John Muwanga to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday.

Out of the 23.6 billion Shillings, Muwanga notes nugatory expenditure in interest on delayed payments to contractors totaling 7.3 billion Shillings by the Uganda National Roads Authority- UNRA.

According to the report, this arose out of penalties for the court cases and interest on delayed payments of advances and Interim Payment certificates from various contractors. 

Simplifying for lay persons who are not accountants, Muwanga said that nugatory expenditure is one that could have been avoided. In the case, the 23. billion Shillings shouldn’t have been spent of officials concerned had all done their work in time.

“The issue was attributed to inadequate funding leading to the Authority’s inability to settle certificates of approved works within the contractual period, which makes contractors invoke the clause in the contract and claim interest on unpaid certificates. There is need for Government to prioritize timely payment of contractors to avoid the penalties imposed as a consequence of delayed payments,” he says.

The Auditor General also reveals delays in completion of design reviews in which the tax payer has to pay 16.3 billion Shillings as increase in one of the project costs.

Muwanga notes that design review is a key component of construction supervision for which any delay affects implementation of the projects leading to cost escalations. 

The Auditor General says that in 7 out of 13 road and bridge projects assessed, he observed that the design review for Masaka-Bukakata road project delayed by over 60 months approximately 5 years with multiple reviews leading to a net increase in the project cost of 16.3 billion Shillings.

“For the Kyenjojo-Kabwoya project, the first design review of the road design report was delayed by 1 month while the final review was delayed by 9 months. For the Akisim-Moroto road section, the first review of the road design report was delayed by 3 months while the final review delayed by 9 months,” reads the audit report.

Also noted is a delayed review for the Bulima-Kabwoya project. While the review was scheduled for 6 months, it was delayed by over 24 months.

For the Fort Portal – Hima road project, outstanding revised road designs were issued more than one year from date of submission of first drawings while that of  Hima-Katunguru project experienced a delay in issuance of final design drawings by over 12 months, according to the report.

“For the design and build of lot 3 bridges projects reviewed; the draft and final design that was to be submitted in 12 and 20 weeks respectively, was submitted in 16 and 32 weeks respectively,” the Auditor General reports. “I advised the Accounting Officer to consider charging damages on consultants who fail to deliver design reviews on time.” 

Meanwhile, the auditors also query the lack of a disputes board saying that two road projects including  Akisim-Moroto project and Fort Portal-Hima road project under construction did not have fully constituted dispute boards as required. This was 90 days after commencement of construction work.

Muwanga says that boards are necessary to resolve in time any disagreements between UNRA and the contractors that arise during contract implementation . 

According to UNRA, the delays were due to the contractors’ objection and preferance for particular Dispute Boards.

“I advised the Accounting Officer to complete the process for constituting Dispute Boards for ongoing projects and always ensure timely appointments,” Muwanga reports.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that the audit report is to be tabled on the floor of parliament after which, the different accountability committees by Parliament will interface with the queried entities.

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