Plans to build an eight-lane $1.1 billion (about Shs4 trillion) expressway linking Kampala to Jinja have run into disarray amid furious lobbying by interested parties and allegations of bribery.
President Museveni has directed the Inspector General of Government, Ms Irene Mulyagonja, to investigate allegations that interested parties paid as much as $10m (Shs37b) in bribes to improve their chances of winning the tender for the road deal. The directive was made in last week’s Cabinet meeting but details were only confirmed at the weekend.
In a brief telephone interview, Justice Mulyagonja said she had not seen the directive to investigate the matter. But three well-placed sources familiar with the project confirmed the directive.
It is the latest twist in a project that is now several months behind schedule after behind-the-scenes lobbying by interested parties. The protracted manoeuvres date back to August last year when the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) invited bidders to express interest in building the highway earmarked as a flagship public-private partnership (PPP) project.
Under the PPP model, the contractor finances, builds, operates and maintains the road for a set period while recovering their money and profit, for instance through tolls paid by motorists.
The first part of controversy came after a senior State House official directed Works minister Monica Azuba to review interest in the project by China Railway 17th Bureau Group Company (CR17th). This was before Unra commenced the first pre-qualification stage, on September 3.
Ms Azuba responded recommending that CR17th “be invited” to participate in the ongoing procurement but the company did not submit an application for pre-qualification under its name