Uganda: Investigator Cites Fraud in Education Solar Project

Kampala — A private investigator has run to the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) to avert what he describes as "fraud and corruption" in the ongoing procurement process for a solar energy project in the Ministry of Education and Sports.

Mr Freddie Egesa, a prominent and lead investigator in a Kampala based private security firm, Absolute Guard Services and Investigations Limited, in a letter dated April 27, claims that officials handling the procurement process for the $700,000 (about Shs2.6 billion) project funded under a World Bank loan are likely to cause a financial loss to government if the process is not halted by the spy agency.

"Our office has received information of fraud in the above procurement which we wish to pass over to your office to avert the pending loss to the government," Mr Egesa said in a letter seen by Daily Monitor.

Currently, the Ministry of Education and Sports is in the procurement process for contractors to supply and install solar energy equipment at 85 selected post primary education institutions across the country.

Mr Egesa in his complaint to ISO and copied to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports, World Bank and Inspectorate of Government, alleges that the project consultants of M&E Associates are interested in two of the bidders and have influenced the process to ensure they are awarded despite being among the highest bidders.

Stakes

"Unfortunately, there is information that the M&E Consultants are interested parties and have a stake in the two companies namely, Adritex (U) limited and Balton (U) limited which are among those that bid for the job. The two companies named seem to have been among those that bid the highest, even beyond the engineer's estimates," the letter reads in part.

Dr Rachael Namuli, the project consultant from M&E associates declined to comment on the allegations and neither did she comment about the status of the procurement saying she is not allowed to speak to the press.

Mr Egesa, who told this newspaper that he submitted the letter to ISO and other relevant offices, said the reason he wrote is because; "I suspected fraud and we have referred it to the Director General ISO for further investigation."

His argument is that with the two companies bidding a total of about Shs4.8b, if awarded, the government will be required to pay an extra more than Shs2b that is not part of the World Bank loan.

The ISO Director General, Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday that he is yet to receive the said complaint from Mr Egesa but quickly added that once received, the spy agency would verify the information with other relevant agencies of government to ensure there is no loss of money.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr Alex Kakooza, said he was not in position to confirm receipt of the letter because has not been in office and only returned on Monday.

He, however, confirmed that the evaluation for the bidders ended and the evaluation report was before the contracts committee for final decision making process.

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