By Tobbias Jolly Owiny
The Obongi District chief administrative officer (CAO), Mr Charles Ouma, has summoned five officials over the irregular procurement of contractors for a Shs3 billion project.
Mr Ouma told Daily Monitor last week that the action was prompted by a June 28 report from the Inspectorate of Government (IGG), citing gross irregularities and abuse of office in the procurement of three subprojects in the district.
"We have summoned the officers for internal disciplinary measures, we have asked each of them to write a detailed report about their actions and involvement in the process," he said.
In September last year, the district received the funds under the Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to establish several structures.
The projects included construction of Alibabito Primary School (Shs424m), general ward and staff house at Obongi Health Centre IV (Shs760m) and district production office block (Shs2b).
"We will make sure we implement each of the recommendations issued by the Inspectorate of Government to avoid sabotage of the project by some corrupt officials," Mr Ouma said.
According to the report, Ms Mariam Wangadya, the deputy IGG, tasked the OPM to terminate the contracts and consider restarting the bidding process.
The report detailed that other bidders were deliberately kicked out of competition while the CAO failed to monitor the process.
For example, the technical officers are also said to have forced the community procurement committee (CPC) of the subproject at Alibabito PS to exclude documents of Yumbe Smart Enterprises from the evaluation process.
The investigation found that the 'successful' bidder for Obongi Health Centre IV general ward and staff house construction subproject did not have the four-year general construction experience specified in the contract as a must requirement.
"The PS, Ministry of Local Government should take appropriate disciplinary action against Mr Charles Ouma for failing to ensure that the district technical officers guide the CPMCs (community project management committee) and CPCs," Ms Wangadya said.
She said the district officials manipulated some members of the CPCs to withdraw their complaints, arguing that any further delays would result in loss of funds and the subprojects.
She conditioned the CAO to take action on specific officials of the district and tasked the district to take responsibility for the contracts signed with the contractors through a mishandled procurement process.
The investigation further revealed that the evaluation of bids started 15 days after bid opening contrary to DRDIP Community Based Procurement and Stores Handbook of 2018 which requires the CPC to evaluate bids within five working days.
On one hand, it pointed out that the technical officers duped members of the CPC to sign already drafted evaluation report forms on day one and presented the same signatures as evidence of a successfully completed evaluation exercise despite the CPC's dissatisfaction with the process.
"The Permanent Secretary, OPM should restart and oversee the entire procumbent process for the three subprojects. You ensure that Mr Toah Asega, assistant inventory officer is removed from being the chairpersons of the CPMC for the district procurement department," she said
Meanwhile, Mr Habibu Buga, the district chairman, said a separate team had been set up to monitor the disciplinary process against the accused officials.