UPDF personnel at work in Isingiro District
District leaders in the Ankole Sub-region have appealed for the Uganda People Defence Force Engineering Brigade be awarded the construction of all government projects.
The leaders made the call over the weekend as they launched the Tarehe Sita (army day) activities from their respective districts.
In preparation for the 42nd Tarehe Sita commemorations that will be held on 6th February 2023 at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara City, the UPDF Engineering Brigade has embarked on constructing and renovating several projects including schools and health centres, and the way the works are done as impressed the leaders.
The day will be celebrated under the theme: “Recognizing the Sacrifice of the founders of the Peoples Revolution for Social Economic Transformation.”
The Rwampara District Chairperson Richard Owumugasho, says that the projects owned by the district that are given to the UPDF are not taxed while for those given to private contractors, the district is tasked with paying a tax of 18% noting that it is always a lot of money off the project budget.
He adds that a lot of corruption is embedded within the procurement process which has sometimes led to the delivery of substandard works by private contractors.
In Isingiro District where the UPDF Engineering Brigade is currently undertaking six projects, Chairperson Alone Turahi says the UPDF is cheaper compared to the private contractors in terms of construction costs, noting that the amount they paid to UPDF to do six projects would have paid for only four to private contractors.
He says the six projects that include the construction of Out Patient Departments and Health centre IIs and renovation of the Health Building at the district headquarters are costing them only 1.1 billion Shillings.
Kazo district Speaker Dan Bwamunyoga asked the President to increase the number of workers under the engineering brigade saying that they are doing good work.
He narrates that the district has saved 100 million shillings of local revenue that they had topped up for the construction of two staff quarters at Kijuma and Rwiigi Health Centers noting that earlier each was budgeted at 50 million shillings but the contractor refused, saying it was too little for the projects. demanding 150 million Shillings. However, the UPDF has taken on the projects at the budgeted cost.
The Mbarara District Vice Chairperson Juliet Nabakooza says the government is spearheading the skilling of Ugandans who are doing or will be taking on construction work, saying that monopolizing the awarding of construction to UPDF would undermine the intentions of skilling. She says UPDF are already employed as soldiers while the civilians are looking for employment in construction.
The district leaders say they are waking up to the July 2021 President’s directive to the ministers of Education and Health to use the army construction brigade to undertake government projects.
In his letter, the president said that many government projects are taking too long to be completed due to the lengthy procurement process and other challenges like corruption which do not arise with the UPDF.