Local businessmen in Gulu City are counting heavy losses after failing to get payments for supplies amounting to one billion Shillings from a Non-Government Organization Countryside Harvesters.
The businessmen provided wide-ranging services to the local NGO headquartered in Gulu between February 2021 and August this year after “emerging” as successful bidders. This followed a call for bids that were advertised numerous times on local radio stations in the region.
At least seven service providers were contracted to supply varied services that included office renovation and office building, piglets and heifers, vehicle hire services, motorcycle and vehicle purchase, office furniture, and computers.
Francis Ojok, the Director of Jet Price Ventures Ltd told our reporter that the organization’s officials first gave him a tender to transport heifers, to which he offered his car on March 23, 2021. He was again awarded a contract to supply 125 freshian cows on June 26 last year but only managed to supply 40 of them using a loan he acquired from a microfinance institution.
Ojok however says that he was never paid, even for the services he provided a debt which accrued to 26 million Shillings for the first transaction and 160 million Shillings for the supply of freshian cows. He notes that the financial institution from which he picked up the loan has now threatened to sell off his two houses in a period of two weeks if he doesn’t pay back.
Ojok says his attempts to demand his payment have never yielded fruits adding that the organization’s offices now remain closed while phone numbers of the top officials are all unavailable.
Nelson Okot, the Executive Director of Kica Ber International Uganda Ltd is demanding 59.5 million Shillings after supplying computers and office furniture in July last year. Okot says that after signing a contract for the supply, he was told that his payment would be effected between two to six weeks after the delivery of supplies but notes that a year has since passed without any payment.
Suzan Adong, the Chairperson of Gordons Agricultural Organization Uganda Limited in Lira District also notes that they supplied 200 pieces of ox-plough and 200 wheelbarrows to the organization in June last year amounting to 118 million Shillings. She however says that no money has been paid. Like other suppliers, Adong says the organization is now on the verge of collapse due to no funds.
Efforts to get comments from the organization’s Executive Director Solomon Okello and the Operations Manager Francis Okello were futile as their known phone numbers were off by Press time. Their offices too in Bardege-Layibi Division remain closed and non-operational.
David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson told our reporter in an interview Wednesday that he hadn’t yet received complaints from the businessmen.
In May this year, the Police in Pader district arrested the organization’s Chief Executive Director Solomon Okello over allegations of fleecing more than 700 million Shillings from locals in Pader District.
The suspect had reportedly been collecting about 700,000 Shillings from unsuspecting farmers promising to deliver to them dairy cows, oxen, and ox-ploughs which he never did.
Other service contractors who have accused the organization of non-payment include Joan Agatha General Enterprises (2.1 million shillings for the supply of piglets), Ocaya George and Family (11.2 million Shillings for the supply of piglets), Acwaa Technical Services & General Supply Company Ltd (75 million Shillings for construction and renovation of offices), and Rutaborwa Enterprises. The other is Rutaborwa Enterprises Ltd which supplied a vehicle, 10 boars, 62 piglets, and a motorcycle valued at 602 million shillings.