Maracha district loses over Shs 18 million in abandoned projects
While many local governments struggle to avoid the wrath of Public Accounts committee and ensure value for tax payers’ money, Maracha district has been forced to spend more money after two contractors abandoned a classroom and toilet projects.
And this laxity by the local governments and no stringent measures to punish the contractors have always landed the leaders into trouble. Hence the tax payers, who expect some gain from their contribution to government in tax, always yields less fruits.
Now, Maracha, one of the youngest politically created district, is faced with the cases of abandoned projects where they are to dig deep into their pockets to salvage the situation of having pupils have conducive learning environment.
According to the Auditor General’s report of 2015, Alikua Islamic community primary school and Wadra health center III all in Yivu Sub County each received a grant allocation of shillings 45 million and 14 million respectively in the Financial year 2014/15 to construct a two classroom block and a two stance pit latrine.
The contract process which started back in 2012 financial year was later awarded to Inal Construction Company, whose managing director according to the district engineer was not known until his arrest after he abandoned the classroom project.
After receiving payment of shillings 32 million, the contractor whom the locals identified as Alfred, kick started the construction process but suddenly left it after roofing with un-recommended iron sheet. He allegedly disappeared from the site.
After abandoning the project to date, Maracha district local government had to vote more shillings 18 million to another contractor identified as NIGO Traders to finish the two classroom project.
District leader’s response
The district engineer Timothy Ezati, denied any shortfall in the contract awarding process saying the normal procurement procedure was followed as stipulated in the guidelines.
“It is true the contractors abandoned the two projects for reasons best known to them. But all the same we completed and commissioned the projects in the second phase though at a higher cost,” said Ezati.
According to Ezati the difference of shillings 13 million and six million for the two projects were as a result of Value Added Tax that government introduced in the second phase.
He also noted that queries have been raised as to why the district continues to put government money in to community projects, a situation which now scares them from injecting more money in to needy communities.
According to the LC 5 chairman, Lawrence Adiga, said: “We only promised them a two classroom block without furniture! It’s up to them to own it, mobilize more resources and take care of it.”
Communities’ take about the projects
However the beneficiary communities have faulted Maracha district local government for engaging in dubious contractors who not only did shoddy works but abandoned the contracts after being paid three quarters of the total sum.
Ibrahim Yunus, the school management committee chairperson for Alikua Islamic primary school and also Munad for Alikua Mosque said they were not aware of anything to do with the project apart from seeing construction going on.
Yunus Ibrahim expressing a point near the classroom block at Alikua Islamic community primary school. All Photos by Stephen Candia
“This two classroom block was started by a man we got to know as Alfred from Yumbe, he started the work but later disappeared for good. When we inquired after nearly three years, we learnt he had too many projects and ran out of money,” said Yunus.
He added that the block was left unfinished for three years until another contractor called NIGO Traders owned by one Swaleh took over, finished the wall, plastered, re-roofed it and fitted doors and windows.
According to Yunus due to the congestion in the dilapidated structure, they had to seek for permission to make use of the new structure which was handed to them without any furniture.
“You can see in one room the children sit on the floor and in the other we have put these few old desks which were donated to us by the late Maracha district NRM chairman Francis Draga,” said Yunus.
Dilapidtaed and broken desks lying inside the newly completed classroom block at Alikua Islamic PS
He added that they were told that since there is little money, they can only receive two classroom block and the other two will come when the district gets more money.
Alikua Islamic community primary school started in 2002 and last year it had 345 pupils and 11 teachers, 4 of who left due to lack of motivation by the school.
Dilapidated classroom structure built by parents at Alikua Islamic PS
Meanwhile at Wadra health center III, the first contractor Weko construction company also abandoned the two stance pit latrine project at wall level after bagging shillings 4.6 million out of 9 million and the district had to pay shillings 13 million extra to Obongi Prime Enterprises Ltd.
According to Sebastian Adraaye a records assistant at Wadra Health Center III, though the pit latrine was finally completed, one of the doors was fixed in the opposite direction, which makes it difficult for a user to enter since it blocks the entrance when opened.
He added that this has forced the health staff to use only one door as the district engineering department has declined to take corrective measures to address the error made by Obongi Traders while fixing the metal doors.
Adraaye Sebastian standing near the two stance latrine at Wadra HC III, whose door when open blocks people from using it.
According to the acting Chief Administrative Officer Maracha Modest Wadia, all the extra money paid to contractors for completion of the abandoned projects were duly approved by the then CAO Mr. Mukasa, and blessed by the council.
Plaque of Obongi traders encrypted on the wall of the latrine at Wadra HC III
Lessons from failed projects
According to Lawrence Adiga, they have learnt a lot of lessons from the actions of the contractors who camouflage as credible contractors but end up messing projects.
“It’s true there are gaps in the procurement processes in our district which give way for contractors without proper documents to win contracts,” said Adiga.
However the district Engineer Timothy Ezati says they will ensure vigorous verification of contract documents because some of the bidders present smartly forged documents to win contracts and end up mismanaging and abandoning projects. End
This story was published with support from the African Center for Media Excellence-ACME under Local Government Fellowship Program 2016.