Rwanda: PAC Orders Probe of Stalled Gicumbi Health Centre Project

24 September 2019

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called for further investigation into the case of the construction of the Rwf620 million Nyamiyaga Health Centre in Gicumbi District that hit a snag.

The decision was made as the district appeared before the committee as part of the ongoing analysis of the 2017/2018 report by the Auditor General.

The construction, which started in 2015, was supposed to be completed in July 2016 but, until today, the hospital is yet to be completed and MPs suspect corruption in offering tenders to contractors who had no capacity.

While the prosecution representative and the legal advisor of Gicumbi District told PAC that some of the suspects behind the stalled project are being pursued in courts, Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, the PAC Chairman, said they will continue to look into the issue and once again summon the district to get an update.

One of the members of the district's tender committee was thrown out of parliament after publicly telling lies while responding to PAC's queries.

"This issue is very serious. Even though some are being prosecuted, we recommend investigating the whole chain that played a role in the stalling of this project, including all staff that were part of the project and are still in their jobs," he said.

The firm had already been paid Rwf313 million, or 51 per cent of the total project cost.

The second contractor also abandoned the works and sub-contracted another firm that is currently trying to complete the project while the supervising company was also changed.

Annonciata Mukarugwiza, the Deputy Chairperson of PAC, asked why no market intelligence was conducted to know real cost for incinerator before the contract was awarded.

"It is not understandable how the contractor had to set up an incinerator at Rwf2 million, which is impossible because a spot check we did showed that one requires at least Rwf70 million. This is a very big difference," she said.

She said that this implies two things; either incompetence of the tender committee, or tricks deployed by the contractor to be awarded the tender.

The worst mistake, MP Marie Médiatrice Izabiriza said, is that even after the first contractor abandoned the works, the tender was offered to the second contractor without renegotiating the incinerator yet it was the main trigger for the first contractor to abandon the project.

"As result, the second contractor also abandoned the works complaining about small budget which should have been addressed when they established the matter of contention.

MP Jeanne d'Arc Uwimanimpaye said corruption or poor planning in offering the tender must be further investigated.

"We suspect that the district favoured the first contractor. There might be a case of corruption among members of the internal tender committee which must be further investigated since technicians had estimated realistic cost but the tender committee distorted it," she said.

Other stalled projects include Mukarange Health Centre, also in the same district, that had to be completed in 2017, road construction projects and several other projects that were abandoned by contractors without paying workers.

Since many of the summoned employees never provided satisfactory answers to PAC, Felix Ndayambaje, the Mayor of Gicumbi District, committed to correct the mistakes and added that most of the employees that were present during the contract management have since resigned while others are being pursued in courts.

School feeding

Meanwhile, the district was also faulted for undermining the school feeding programme that is aimed at ensuring all students, including those from vulnerable families, can have a meal from school.

MPs said that the district disbursed Rwf80 million to boarding schools for the programme instead of Rwf223 million that had been earmarked.

"We wondered how these schools survived without the money reserved for them," MP Izabiriza noted.

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