The business community in Lira City has raised red flags over the slow progress and quality of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) projects.
The group, led by Bosco Ogwang Edola, Director Chambers of Commerce for Northern Uganda, inspected the projects first on Wednesday and then convened a stakeholders meeting to discuss their findings.They say the contract extension period will elapse before the work is finished.
The businessmen are concerned that the slow pace of work will continue to affect their businesses because the volume of work left is large and the disruption will cause them enormous losses.
They are also deeply suspicious of the quality of the work as the materials being used, especially on bridges, are visibly substandard, and as a result, the work is shoddy. The rest of the community is complaining over the dumping of heaps of sand excavated from the roads and dumped on their verandas.
The businesspeople have thus given six weeks for the contractor to clear all roads within the city center so that business can resume during the festive period.
Michael Awany, the proprietor of Shine Energies, who donated 3 meters of his land to facilitate the construction of a bridge, now wants the contractor to compensate him for the land, saying the work is taking so long and thus affecting his business.
Patrick Ogwang, the chairperson of the Agro-Input Dealers’ Association, raised concern over the slow pace of work and poor quality culverts being used on Olwol Road, saying their agro-input businesses have not made money for the last year.
However, Freddie Owiny, the Lira City engineer who is also the project manager, acknowledged the gaps identified by the businessmen, saying some of them were unavoidable, thus the delay.
He also explained the variations on the boundary road, saying it was divided into three sections, each of different sizes depending on the available space.
Meanwhile, Eng. Joseph Musoke from Abubaker Technical Services attributes the slow pace of work to the recent increase in fuel prices, which led to a stockout of building materials, saying labor subcontractors will be engaged to speed up the process.
He assured the people of Lira about their commitment to quality work but asked for a period of six weeks for them to construct pavements to ease customer access to the business premises.
In August last year, the city rolled out the second phase of the USMID project, which includes the reconstruction of Obangakene, Noteber, Aber, Olwol, Uhuru, and Boundary roads, as well as the completion of the Coronation Park and the construction of one children’s park.
The contract, worth 37.6 billion shillings, was awarded to Al-Nuiami Group and Abubaker Technical Services in consultation with Segamu 14 Consults Ltd for a period of 15 months.The contract period has since been extended twice, with the last one ending in March 2023.