Latest details on the botched Mukono-Kyetume –Katosi road tender process indicate that Works Minister Abraham Byandala relied on legal advice provided by the roads agency’s legal director, Mr Marvin Baryaruha to approve the deal.
UNRA did not engage the services of the Solicitor General or Attorney General, the principal legal advisers of government, according to minutes of one the several meetings of the Contracts Committee held on July 18, 2013.
Documents obtained by this newspaper over the weekend also indicate that the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) did not conduct due diligence.
A storm has been brewing since Shs24.7 billion was paid to Eutaw, the firm that won the tender to upgrade the road. The Inspector General of Government said it was not a genuine company.
Asked about the flaw yesterday, Mr Baryaruha told Daily Monitor his legal opinion was not binding, adding: “The executive director takes the final decision and he too was directed by the minister.”
Internal correspondences show the UNRA Contracts Committee appointed Mr Baryaruha and director internal audit, Mr Peter Kirimunda, to travel to the US to carry out due-diligence.
“It has been agreed that a team travels to the United States to carry out a due-diligence on this company. I will be travelling together with director internal audit to carry out this assignment.
The purpose of this memo is to request for facilitation of our travel and also our per diem of approximately seven days including a contingency fee of $3,000 each for inland travel,” Mr Baryaruha wrote on December 4, 2013.
Money was subsequently approved for the trip but the duo never travelled to the US.
However, yesterday Mr Baryaruha passed the buck to the Contracts Committee, claiming it blocked his planned travel.
“We were stopped from travelling and I can’t discuss much but also read David Luyimbazi’s letter (director planning). We were stopped from travelling for due-diligence but we have just revived it because we are supposed to do it. We were not given money and if you have any receipts then, they are forged,” Mr Baryaruha said.
On his part Mr Luyimbazi insisted he approved the travel to the US. “Obviously that letter seems not to have been delivered as nobody came back to me and the rest I don’t know how things happened,” he told Daily Monitor.
Mr Ssebbuga told this paper yesterday him being an engineer, he entirely relies on Mr Baryaruha – the legal director’s advice.
“As an accounting officer, I am an engineer and therefore, I rely on his for anything that involves law. And so, I couldn’t object to what he said,” Mr Ssebbuga.
Questions on the contract first emerged when it was observed that the unit cost for Mukono –Katosi-Nyenga and Kanoni-Sembabule were high hence the need for retendering.
But this was flatly rejected by two members of the UNRA Contracts Committee who said because of the urgency of the road, it wouldn’t be retendered.
On November 8, 2013, a report was submitted highlighting several issues on the identity and authority of the contractor representatives and legal establishment of the company.
There appeared to be another firm called Eutaw Construction Company in Mississippi with the address of St109 W, Aberdeen Mississippi, US and incorporated in 1980 as per the bid submission but this was not the case with Eutaw of 622 Beach Land, Florida 32963 registered in 2010 with directors and secretary that do not appear on the official websites sampled.