23 March 2014

Uganda: Company Goes to Court Over Northern Bypass

Completion of the Northern bypass, a road that is supposed to decongest Kampala by diverting trucks plying the trade corridor between Kenya and areas beyond Kampala, faces further delays after one of the companies rushed to court to challenge the tendering process.

Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), through AF Mpanga Advocates, has petitioned the High court to stop the tendering process, claiming its bid was unfairly thrown out. RCC says the whole process has been riddled with irregularities. The company notes that among the eight companies vying for the construction works, it had the lowest bid of 65.56 million Euros.

The company states that the bid evaluation process was inexplicably and suspiciously prolonged. It adds that the decision to cancel its bid on grounds that it had weak supporting documents was in itself weak.

"The decision [to cancel the tendering procedure] disproportionately affected the applicant being the lowest bidder and in either event did not afford the applicant a fair opportunity to clarify or defend its tender or supporting documents. This was, in substance if not just in form, intended to enable the respondents to bypass the applicant's bid and commence negotiations with higher bidders," the plaint goes on.

Responding to the suit Dan Alinange, the spokesperson of the Uganda National Roads Authority, told The Observer that RCC was eliminated because it lacked the experience in constructing roads in the mould of the Northern bypass.

"Those ones [RCC] were rejected by our technical people because they never had what it takes to construct the northern bypass. They only constructed the Kampala-Masaka road, which doesn't fall in the category of the roads that we wanted."

The Northern bypass is roughly 21km long. However, up to 17.5km need to be reconstructed to make it dual carriage and introduce more flyovers. RCC Managing Director Yaron Dunsky claimed there was a mafia-like scheme that led to their company being kicked out. He said the government of Uganda influenced the process in order to deal with other parties involved in the bidding process.

"That myself and other officers of the applicant started hearing rumours in the market that attempts were afoot to find a way of excluding the applicant's bid to make way for government of Uganda to enter into negotiations with bidders which had substantially higher [figures] than ourselves and that we were to be excluded on flimsy technicalities that were being cooked up," Yaron says in the affidavit.

Alinange rubbished those claims.

"There's no truth in those allegations. The competition was free and fair but if they have gone to court, we shall meet them there," he said.

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