There is a lot of excitement in Eastern Uganda as Tirinyi- Nakalama –Mbale road takes shape. This enthusiasm is partly due to the speed at which the road is being constructed. The project is being undertaken by Dott services Ltd, a locally registered company.
The road stretch under construction is 99.9 kms. The contract duration is 25 months but at 7 months, 32Kms have already been upgraded to asphalt which represents 30% of the work.
The residents are happy because they had fears that the contractual issues that had erupted between the employer and the contractor would make it impossible to have the road constructed and completed on time.
‘We are very excited. The works are going on smoothly. If the project proceeds at this pace, we shall have a smooth ride next year,’ Nathan Ngobi a resident of Nakalama said over the weekend. “We are satisfied with the speed at which the construction is going,” James Wandera, a businessman along the road said. “We are enjoying a cordial working relationship with the contractor”. He said the road activities have also improved earnings among the locals. “My sales have shot up since the start of the project,” he said.
“Thousands of locals who have been unemployed were absorbed by the project and this has increased income in the community.”
It should be remembered that a contractual disagreement had broken out between UNRA and Dott services but was amicably resolved and the contract is now moving smoothly.
With the completion of the road, it will eliminate the need for road users travelling between Mbale and Iganga to go through longer distances and thus cutting travel time by more than 40%.
The project also aims at connecting the regional towns to the national motorway network.
The infrastructure work will cut driving times, improve road safety and reduce congestion on the Iganga-Bugiri-Tororo route.
Upon completion, the Nakalama-Tirinyi - Mbale road will have two lanes with room for several extra climbing lanes.
When asked about the speed at which the road is moving, the head of contracts at Dott services, Eng Jameone Olonya said that as the company, they are so happy that the problems that had created delays have all been cleared, the reason they intend to complete the road ahead of schedule.
He said the company is extremely grateful to the UNRA current management for resolving issues that had crippled the project. Eng. Olonya said it’s going to be one of the strongest roads in the country because it’s based on strong design and plans.
Below are the excerpts of the interview with Eng. Jamesone Olonya - Manager, Contracts at Dott Services Limited.
What is the current progress on Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale Road?
Currently we have completed 32 KMs of Asphalt Surface out of 99.2 KMs. The current status is approximately around 30% progress. We are reasonably ahead of schedule—given the Contract Agreement required that, after Re-mobilization, we should complete 4Kms of Asphalt Surface per month from July 2018.
Besides, we have completed Cross Drainage Works in nearly 70 kms stretch of the 99.23 kms of the road length.
There were challenges between your company and UNRA on this particular road. How did you resolve them?
Every contract will have its own unique challenges stemming from various factors and in the same way, Nakalama Tirinyi Mbale project faced challenges due to designs and contract management issues, which were eventually resolved amicably, paving way for a successful execution as evidenced from the current progress and as I said we are very grateful to the UNRA management for the cooperation they have exhibited ever since we got back on the road.
What were those contractual issues?
The original tendered contract which was envisaged to be implemented at the tender stage was substantially changed during execution.
This was due to fact that; the road had reached its terminal stage, which required more than simply the overlay of the asphalt, but enhancement of the underlying layers as well, to improve the pavement bearing capacity.
There was also evidently an increase in the axle load and the general traffic conditions. There was significant deterioration of the existing culverts. Since they were mostly Metal Culverts, many were vandalized over time, while others were mostly corroded, and which required replacements.
These necessitated the employer to significantly change the designs and re-scoping of the work, which consequently brought about big variations in the contract, which eventually resulted into contractual issues.
However, all these were later resolved amicably and incorporated in the Contract Agreement.
What does this new scope of work entail?
Whereas UNRA is better suited to detail the design deliverables, we believe that: the revised designed which we are currently implementing is a considerably robust improvement of the road.
The road is going to have a much better pavement than what was in the earlier requirement--because it’s made out of three strong pavement layers, i.e.:
• The works now goes down to improvement of the sub grade with G30 grade gravel,
• Benching and Widening of narrower stretches to accommodate 9.6 metres of the road width, to allow for 7 metres of Carriageway, and relative Shoulders,
• Mechanical modification of existing Crushed Stone Base with an addition of new Crush Rock Material (CRR) to provide an improved Sub-Base,
• In addition, provide an additional Crush Rock Material (CRR) layer of Base Course, with some locations having double layers of the Crushed Rock Base courses.
• The final Surface is a provision of 50mm thick Asphalt Concrete (Grade AC 20).
We are replacing all the existing old Cross Pipe Culverts with new Concrete Pipe and Box Culverts of 900MM and 1200MM diameter. Some of the box culverts are of 8 Cells of about 2 x 2 metres each—to cater for the huge volume of water, especially in the swamps.
In all, there will be 44 Box Culverts, 124 Pipe Culverts of 900mm and 1200 mm diameter, numerous 600mm access culverts, and lined side drains. This is providing substantially more cross culverts and box culverts compared with the 10 locations that were in the original tendered Scope of Works.
When do you intend to complete?
May 2020 is when we shall handover the road in accordance with the Contract Agreement.
What are the other projects that DOTT is currently handling?
The Company is currently involved in the following Works:
Uganda: We are involved in:
• The construction of Arua Town Water and Sewerage project.
• The construction of the Kampala Main sewage and pipeline passing through Kampala City— connecting to Kinawataka Treatment Scheme,
• The Construction of Waki Hydro Power Project in Bulisa,
• The construction of Power Lines across the country in Nakaseke, Nakasongola,luwero, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kamuli, Buyende districts.
• The construction of irrigation schemes in Doho, Buteleja District as well as Rweganju in Fortportal District.
• The Construction of Arua Market.
• Presidential Initiative for Banana Industrial Development (PIBID).
• We are also involved in the Construction of Yumbe hospital.
Tanzania: We are currently involved in the Upgrading of Mtwara to Mnivata section (50 KMs) Road project in Southern Tanzania.
India, we are currently doing:
• A Four Lane Concrete Highway construction, (57.4 KMs) from Bugga to Kaipa NH-544D, in Andhra Pradesh state.
• And we have a Major Coal Mining Project in Ramagundam, Telegana state.
Currently, our order book stands at about USD 600m and our company employs more than 3000 people in all the geographical jurisdictions.
What are some of the projects that you have concluded in the recent past?
The Company has successfully completed more than 100 projects in Uganda and across the globe in various engineering disciplines. For example, in road works alone, we have tarmacked over 700 kms.
I have driven on almost all the roads you have constructed in Uganda, and I have seen differences in the ride qualities. Roads like Kagamba-Ishaka Road are quite smoother compared to the Mbale-Tororo-Soroti Road, which is much rough. Can you explain the reasons for the difference in ride quality and the challenges you have faced during project executions?
As you very well know, the jurisdiction of a Contractor is specific.
A Contractor does only what the Employer has instructed him to do, and usually roads have different specifications (Upgrades, Reconstructions, Rehabilitations, Periodic Maintenance, and so on). Therefore, some roads are of higher specifications than others—depending on the requirement chosen by the Employer.
As such, some of the lower specifications are of Double Surface Dressing Treatment (DBST) on a given Pavement Layer (Chemically Stabilized Gravel Base or Mechanically Modified Base), while others have a better Pavement which is construction using pure Crushed Stone Base on an improved Sub-Base whether cement stabilized or Mechanically Modified Crush Stone with an improved Subgrade as its foundation.
The Tororo-Mbale-Soroti Road particularly, by the requirement of the Employer was an “Interim Stop-Gap Measure.” The Project was initially envisaged as Partial rehabilitation without any changes to the vertical and horizontal alignment which was later changed to full rehabilitation Works with relatively low specifications. Then the designs were delayed by almost 18 months, which was the original contract period, and this led to implement a project with a substantially revised design and scope of work.
Yes the Project was of inferior quality because it was an intervention measure opted by the Employer in anticipation of a World Bank “Performance Based Road Contract (OPRC)” which entailed a substantial improvement of the road all the way from Tororo upto Corner Kamdini. So, the Tororo-Soroti-Mbale road’s intervention was to secure the life span for an additional three to four years as an emergency measure. It was a reason why it was called staged reconstruction project but both projects were successfully completed in 2014 (Mbale-Tororo) and 2015 (Mbale-Soroti) respectively.
Meanwhile, the Ishaka-Kagamba Road was an Upgrade, with a much superior specification. The Project Road was constructed using pure Crushed Stone (CRR) Base, with Asphalt Concrete surfacing.
Even the prices of these two roads differ greatly:
The per kilometre cost of the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti Road (being of a much lower specification is around USD 500,000.00 while the cost per kilometer on Ishaka-Kagamba Road is USD 1,200,000.00 per kilometre due to higher specifications and the terrain.
In other words, if you specified for me to supply corolla, you can’t expect me consequently supply a Mercedes Benz Station Wagon. Hence, it’s understandable that when the public drives on both roads like you have, the difference in quality will evidently be noticeable.
However, because the Contractor always remains in the eye of the public, he takes on the blame or appreciation that they did poor work or vice versa.
It is important to note that the Contractor only carries out works as per the designs opted by the employer and works under the instructions of the Employer (Consultant), with the close supervision of the entire work sequences from approving the Materials to be incorporated in the Permanent works to implementation of the works by the Contractor.
The interim payments are made at regular intervals to the contractor for the work done after the approval of the works carried out on daily basis which pass through a stringent protocol of approvals of laboratory tests etc by the employer.
And the delays on Kagamba- Ishaka road?
We are so proud of the beautiful and quality work we did on the Kagamba-Ishaka Road.
The delay on this road was caused majorly by the issues relating to the Right of Way and compensation delays. In particular, the construction period was supposed to be for 2 years, but compensation took beyond 4 years and 3 months. The contract commenced in February 2012 and a clear continuous stretch of 5 Kilometers road free of any encumbrances was only availed in October 2013 which is 20 months into the contract. This should explain the issue well.
As you know, the role of compensation is not for the Contractor, but rather the Employer.
Our company endeavored to work on the little available sections and we went ahead to finish the road to the quality and beauty that you see there as soon as the employer completed the compensation process.
Even with the above facts, our company has sometimes been blamed that it was us who delayed the works, which is a pure misconception and bruntant lie.
You need to drive there again someday on that beautiful road when you get time, and you will appreciate that the quality of our work is super.
From your explanation, it is evidently clear that DOTT is a superb company that does quality work but with very poor PR. Why haven’t you invested in PR to manifest your deeds?
Well, you are right to say that. You know DOTT is an Infrastructure company carrying out public works and majorly in road construction, which depends on the Employer for business, and matters of confidentiality are usually enshrined in the contract. Like any other contractor, the contract clauses do not permit us to spell out some of the challenges we come across to the public especially when the project is on-going.
Also, besides the 4 directors of DOTT SERVICES who are qualified engineers with Degrees in Civil, Mechanical and Automobile Engineering disciplines, we also have a pool of engineers who simply believed in work, work and work. We had always believed that people would appreciate the result of our products, not exactly through PR. Thus, we had honestly considered that if we are given a contract, what matters is to ensure that the project is completed on time and with quality. Little did we know that public relations matter for a company as big as Dott Services, and this was a mistake on our part. Off course our competitors utilized that weakness and capitalized on tarnishing our company using all sorts of methods available at their disposal. However, things come apart easily when they have been held together with lies. Our excellent reputation is glaringly clear that no amount of lies can taint it forever.
For instance it is on record that there is no specific project where the company has failed to perform or failed to carry out it duty to the required quality standards; you can’t find any.
For your information, we are a very well-resourced company with professional manpower, huge fleet of Machinery and Equipment, Asphalt plants, Concrete batching plants apart from investments in the stone quarries and crushing plants spread across the country.
Any final word?
I wish to state that:
• We remain focused on ensuring quality execution of works at hand and to complete them on schedule to the satisfaction of our clients.
• You may as well remember that all our works that were done, are there to prove that point. I will cite some examples such as Kafu-Masindi Road, which we did nearly fourteen years ago. To date it has not developed any pothole and has lowest maintenance costs. It has stood the test of its design life, then we have Muduuma-Mityana Road, among others.
• It’s with that commitment that DOTT Services Uganda, has competed and won big tenders in Tanzania, South Sudan and India; we have succeeded because our excellent record gives us advantage.
• Where few challenges have arisen on projects, it is due to reasons (like delayed compensation, delayed designs and instructions, etc.,—which every contractor faces world over) and it is definitely beyond our control as explained above.
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