KAMPALA: The Ministry of Works and Transport has again been hit by another fraud and corruption scandal, just after the recent corruption incidences that led to dissolution of Uganda Airline board by President Museveni.
This time round, a Turkish construction firm, Polat Yol Yapi received an advance payment of Shs60 billion in March 2020 from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and used it to work on a road project in another country.
The money in question was meant for the construction works on Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road but it was transferred and diverted for another project in Kuwait.
The shocking information has been unearthed by a whistle-blower through a letter to Allen Kagina, the Executive Director of UNRA.
The Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road project which started in 2020 has up to date registered challenges which are obstructing and retarding its progress. The worst of all is that almost all the challenges are deliberately initiated by the project management and some individuals from and within the supervisory authority.
In a letter dated 29th March, 2021, the whistle-blower exposes how some top officials at the authority led by Titus Aleper connived with Polatyol Construction Company to swindle billions of shillings at the expense of Uganda’s taxpayers.
Aleper is the UNRA Project Manager for Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road construction works.
“The Contractor was advanced Shs60 billion and took it to a project in Kuwait while Uganda was still under Covid-19 Lockdown last year. The Project in Kuwait was terminated and the contractor cannot recover that money,” the whistle-blower told Ms Kagina.
“Between KM85-90,the Consultant /Engineer had a design but the alignments were changed on
orders of Aleper to an extent of an offset of 300 meters to 500 meters without a genuine reason but with an aim of stealing government money in terms of compensation. On top of that Aleper keeps sending people to the contractor to recruit them forcefully. In this regard they are not at times competent for the work.”
The whistle-blower also revealed that Aleper who is known to be arrogant even to his superiors at UNRA, works closely with his immediate bosses at the authority – Alfred Ojik and Eng Muhoozi ( Head of Road Development) to mismanage the project as well as to frustrate the Consultant/ Engineer who tries to put the work on course.
“I suggest you use an independent body like Engineering brigade ,Police Unit or another company because those
names mentioned above (Ojik and Muhoozi) have a lot of influence. They bought land where the road is going to pass using other people and they want to be compensated highly, the consultant/Engineer is aware.
“Executive Director you had a meeting with the Directors of Polatyol on the 16 March 2021 but prior to the meeting your staff including Aleper and team met the Directors and the Project Manager (Edip Yenen) at Sky Hotel Naguru, 10;00pm, I believe you can find the footage, they were coached on how to respond to the situation with excuses on why they have not reached the target. Ever since after that meeting Aleper defends the contractor for all wrongs he has done ie the contractor imported old used prefabs for campsite construction and the Consultant/Engineer refused to approve it but Aleper told the Engineer to go ahead and approve it and if it broke down after the construction the contractor will have to redo the work but the question is that at whose expense? What about the time wasted ? In most cases, Aleper pushes the Consultant against the principle,” the whistle-blower added.
One year down; no progress at all:
Its surprising that until now the contractor has not fully mobilized, not even the required equipment/ machinery is at the site.
The camp site is also to date not fully constructed. The contractor imported old prefabrics for engineers accommodation. The resident engineer, deputy and the UNRA representative (Aleper) have sided with the contractor to accommodate the engineers’ team in the contractor’s substandard dormitories which are not worth the contract sum allocated.
“The staff who have stood up against the conspired fraud are being threatened to lose their jobs. The teams have also chosen to rent outside the camp for their own safety. To our surprise, despite all that. The client’s supervisory team is comfortable and not even complaining about the slow progression of work!,” the whistle-blower asserted.
Local subcontractors illegally dismissed:
The local project subcontractors were also not spared; they had started doing some work but since the contractor had no machinery on site, they were unceremoniously dismissed without pay. They have since been replaced with Kenyan firms such as Daje Enterprise Ltd, Diadem Limited, Diaspora Design Built ltd among others.
“The project supervision is very much wanting; the contractor only visits the site when there is a site visit from a team from UNRA. The fraud in the procurement process ought to be investigated if work is to go on well and to ensure timely completion of work. The old prefabrics residential to be paid 4.8m per month per unit,” the whistle-blower added.
Sex for jobs:
The whistle-blower further disclosed Aleper’s brother James Lokoru and Polatyol offical have been involved in sex for jobs with the flag girls.
“The community called the HR of the contractor asking for what will happen after the project ie pregnancies ,STDS/STIS or they marrying the girls? These girls are willing to testify on camera with the area LCs. They were caught red handed at a guest house but being that Lokoru and Cerlkan (Turkish) are connected to Aleper, everything stopped at his level.
“On the other hand, we doubt if even the person in the capacity of Resident Engineer has ever been an inspector of any road project. The same Resident Engineer is under investigation for sexual harassment issues. We hope the victim who is also his former maid will get justice because the Engineer is trying so much to use money to frustrate the process.”
About Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road construction works:
The Muyembe-Nakapiripiriti road construction starts at Muyembe, approximately 35 kilometers northeast of Mbale. The road continues north to end at Nakapiripirit, a total distance of approximately 92 kilometers. The road project, goes through east and northern Uganda will link Uganda to Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The road connects the towns of Muyembe in Bulambuli district, to the town of Nakapiripirit.
The project includes upgrading the 92km existing earthen/gravel road between Muyembe and Nakapiripirit towns to asphaltic paved road standard and improve 25km secondary road links to reduce travel time, operational cost and economic losses; increase comfort, safety and reliability during travel; and meet current and future transport demands and help accelerate economic activities by improving access of people to social amenities, market places, business and employment opportunities resulting from improved internal and sub-regional connectivity and economic growth.
The number of road accidents, fatalities, and travel time are expected to reduce by 50% in the year 2025.