Uganda: Isimba Bridge Project in Jeopardy As Government, Contractor Disagree

12 February 2020

The completion of the Isimba Dam Bridge currently under construction with an aim of connecting Kayunga and Kamuli districts hangs on a compromise between the government and the contractor over payment for the works.

This comes after the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development insisted that the contractor, China [International] Water & Electric Corporation (CWE), constructs the bridge downstream of Isimba Dam at the same project sum of $567m (Shs2 trillion).

Initially, the bridge was designed to be constructed on top of the 183MW dam at Isimba, but it was redesigned to be built downstream after experts warned government of dangers of a bridge on top of a power dam.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure yesterday, the Energy Ministry team led by Minister Mary Kitutu revealed that there was an agreement that the contractor would construct the bridge on "no costs" after a new site was identified.

However, committee chairperson Robert Ssekitoleko (Nakifuma County) said there are fears that the bridge may never be completed since the government and the contractor are not on the same page.

"The money (for Isimba Dam project) has been paid up to 92 per cent but the contractor is seeking more money. I think this bridge will not be completed" Mr Ssekitoleko said.

The contractor's officials are expected to interact with the committee today to give their side of the claim.

The MPs also tasked the officials to explain the whereabouts of the Shs24.6b that has been allegedly stolen from the funds to construct the bridge, which is said to be at 31 per cent completion rate at the moment.

During a House plenary on November 13, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga personally raised the matter claiming that money, about Shs24b, meant for the public road/bridge, was stolen by a group of officials in the Energy ministry.

However, Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary, Mr Robert Kasande, explained that there is no way anyone in the ministry could have stolen the money because all payments are made by the government of China to the contractor's accounts in Beijing after a request is made by the Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance.

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