Lira City to return Shs 19bln World Bank money

LIRA– Councilors of Lira City have raised concerns over Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development [USMID] project funded by the World Bank.  

They said part of the Shs 35 billion for the USMID project has not been exhausted and the money will be returned to the consolidated in the Bank of Uganda.

USMID is the World Bank-funded project for upgrading roads in the 22 municipalities and cities in the country. The project started in 2013 in 14 municipalities/ cities.

Government and the World Bank Its targeted to enhance institutional performance which includes revenue collection, service delivery, financial management, provision of infrastructure, and planning among others.

Monitoring the progress of upgrading five roads in Lira City including building a multipurpose hall and beautification of Coordination Park, a section of councilors are dissatisfied with the millipede speed of the project.

The contract to tarmac roads within the industrial city was awarded to Abubakari Technical Services in a joint venture with M/S Al-Nuami Group. It was signed in April 2021 and was due to run for 15 months.

Among the roads undergoing reconstruction include Uhuru Park, Obangakene, Bala, Noteber, Olwol, Boundary roads including Children Park at Adyel, and the completion of Coronation Park.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Sarah Awor, female worker representative to Lira City council said, they have discovered that the speed is slow yet the timeline for the project is elapsing.

“One month ago, we moved around the roads and we found the same thing we got today (Tuesday),” Awor said.

She said there is a serious delay and that when they were approving and passing the budget of 2022/2023, there was a rollover of Shs 19bln which will be taken back to the treasury.

“We realised that Shs 19bln has not utilised and it is going back to the treasury. This is the situation we are in,” she said.

She said the sh35b project was too big for the local contractor to handle and the government should revisit its position.

“I want to give the feedback to the government that the local contractors are not capable of handling USMID projects and in future, they should consider international contractors,” she added.

Danel Okello, the speaker of Lira City East division said there has been a lot of issues surrounding the USIMID projects including blocking some roads within the city for nearly three months, which affected businesses.

He cited Boundary road, located in Kirombe where the road has been blocked for three months where people could not access other areas.

“According to the road design, it was supposed to be 20 meters wide but it only 8 meters,” Okello alleged.

He said he wrote a number of letters to several authorities in the country raising the rot in the project but no action has been taken.

“We are calling upon the president to intervene in the matter because we have moved and the work is at the standstill,” he added.

According to Okello, though the company has left with only one month to hand over the work, only 27 percent of the contract has been accomplished.

The project was supposed to run for 15 months and it is due to end in August according to sources.

Freddie Owiny, the City engineer told the media that they are so concerned over the delay and the slow progress exhibited by the contractor.

He said the company started work very well and they were so determined that they will be able to deliver within the project period.

“We are trying to push them because time is running,” Owiny said adding “if they request for more time to finish the work, they should provide a justification because we gave them enough time.”

Two months ago in the project review meeting, according to a source, the City town clerk, Edward Kiwanuka, expressed disappointment over the delay.

“As a client, we are not happy because the project is moving at a slow pace and I understand, by this time it will be halfway done,” Kiwanuka reportedly said.

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