Saturday, August 13, 2011
WHY THE GOVERNMENT OF UGANDA OUGHT TO INVEST IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT – BUSES
Uganda Government liberalized the management of public transport among other areas following the privatization drive as was dictated by the donor community. However, we find that this sector has incurred a lot of problems among which is the situation where inefficient managers backed by some people in Government have miss managed public transport. The other problem is that you may want investors into the sector but in the final analysis many more lives have been claimed due to the pressure the drivers of these vehicles have to meet the cash flow as required by those who lend money to the owners of the vehicles. This leads to bigger loss of lives. It is true we don’t have many people who have accumulated much money to see that they can put up a fleet of buses without much pressure from the banks where they get loan finance. It is negligence on the part of Government to leave life of innocent people to reckless drivers whose main motive is to drive as fast as possible to recover the amount they are routinely required to remit. It is unconvincing for some body in Government to say that they want City Bus Service to manage another big fleet of buses in Uganda, this is laughable. Uganda has ever had new buses in transport and we should not regress. The country should set up a management infrastructure to see Government owned buses back on the road. It is true the public may keep playing the role they are playing now, but it is the duty of Government to see that sound transport with reduced risk is available to the people. The numbers claimed on the Uganda roads are a sad development and many of those claimed leave dependants around. It is therefore advisable that Government gets more serious regarding public transport such that it puts in place a public transport board to manage public transport fleet of buses. It surprises that a company like City Bus Services with buses which are better termed as written off can be given a tender to supply buses for a serious country that Uganda is supposed to be. The advocates of Government ownership of such services have been disapproved given what we have seen so far. Secondly, it is also true that some local interests took the privatization drive as an advantage to take up such services and then exploit the people of Uganda for their own benefit. We are told of the riches as owned by UTODA bosses, yet when they have not been able to meet what is due to Kampala City Council as per the understanding in place to the effect that they accumulated arrears while their individual assets grew on. This situation is unacceptable.
We still have good managers what fails most of these services is where political interests outsmart other considerations including competence to the effect that the utilities are run down. Can we say that Mrs Jennifer Musisi is from heaven? The truth is that Government involvement as a bigger player in public transport can greatly improve the sector as well as the welfare of the users of the services. Uganda Posts through the Post Bus Service is doing good work. I am not aware of terrible accidents involving Post Buses and as a model, I think Government on identifying good managers who are properly audited can have the public transport greatly improved instead of leaving it to the private players who have big problem and pressure regarding the acquisition of bank loans which leads to recklessness and death on our roads.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
KUTESA'S IN-LAW CITED IN DUBIOUS BUS DEAL
Written by Edris Kiggundu & Hussein Bogere
Sunday, 21 August 2011 21:01
A newly-unveiled Pioneer Easy Bus in 2006 and Sebaggala (L) who pushed the contract
The decision to contract Pioneer Easy Bus (PEB) to manage public transport in the city has kicked off a storm at Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) following revelations that it was awarded under controversial circumstances.
First, it is alleged that the deal could have been signed under political influence because among PEB’s shareholders is a firm owned by the son-in-law to Sam Kutesa, the minister of Foreign Affairs. But more importantly, councilors at City Hall claim that proper procedures were not followed as the former mayor, Nasser Sebaggala, pushed hard to have the deal hammered before his tenure ended.
Last week, Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of KCCA, named Kenlloyd Logistics Uganda Limted as a shareholder of PEB. It is owned by Albert Muganga who is married to Kutesa’s daughter, Ishta Kutesa. Other shareholders of PEB include Matthew Rukikaire, the former minister for Privatization, Atlantic Holdings Ltd, Urban Public Transport Company Ltd and Delux Solutions Ltd.
Musisi, who appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure, also confirmed that the city authorities had verified the company’s profile and okayed its operations.
However, sources at KCCA told us last week that the contract signed on December 15, 2010, when David Naluwayiro was acting Kampala Town Clerk, did not follow the right procedures, raising suspicion that the shareholders could have used their political connections to secure the deal.
According to our sources at KCCA, PEB was introduced to the Council by former mayor Sebaggala during one of the sittings in early 2008 in which he pleaded with councillors to endorse the proposal. According to a councilor who attended the meeting, Sebaggala argued that improving the city transport system by replacing the commuter taxis with buses should be looked into.
Eventually, the council allowed the company to introduce the buses on a pilot scheme for three years (2008 to 2010) as its performance was assessed. Sources told us that even before the assessment period ended, PEB started pushing for a formal contract through informal channels.
We have been told that Sebaggala, with support from some technical people at KCC, pressured the councilors to endorse the deal before his mayoral term expired. But during one of the stormy council meetings in early December, the councilors pointed out that PEB’s proposal lacked in some aspects. For instance, it was not clear when PEB would build terminals in various parts of the city as had been agreed and since the details of the company shareholders were still unknown, some councilors doubted whether the firm had the financial muscle to execute the venture.
One councilor in particular pointed out that some of the buses used during the pilot project were old and persistently broke down. Unknown to the councillors, sources told us, Sebaggala, working with some technical people on the KCC contracts committee, crafted an agreement with PEB.
However, in March, at a council meeting chaired by Sebaggala, the councillors questioned the agreement and threatened to seek legal redress.
“We told him that the contract was null and void because it did not follow the right channels,” Bernard Luyiga, a councilor who attended the session told us over the weekend.
Under normal procedure, PEB’s proposal should have been first approved by the council before being endorsed by the contracts committee. In the meeting, Sebaggala reportedly told them that bids had been advertised in the press (although this could not be readily verified) and that out of five companies, PEB had been chosen.
According to the procurement procedures, questions can only be raised about a tender 10 days from the date of the award of the contract for an administrative review. Naluwayiro, the acting Town Clerk who signed on behalf of KCC, told The Observer on Saturday that there is nothing controversial in the deal.
“It took long because we wanted to follow all the proceedures. We consulted the ministries of Works and Finance for their input,” he said.
He denied that there was any political influence in the award.
According to the two-page agreement which The Observer have seen, Naluwayiro signed on behalf of KCC, while Fred Bagenda Senoga signed on behalf of PEB. John Masanda, the managing director of Kenlloyd Logistics, signed as a witness.
The company is supposed to provide 522 buses on the western and eastern route zones and 100 of the buses were supposed to have been introduced within the first four months of signing the contract (that should have been April).
The company, expected to pay KCCA Shs 300,000 per bus per month, would have exclusive operation of the buses with a capacity of 60 passengers and above on the designated routes. Other operators along the concession routes would be allowed to operate mini-buses of 20 passengers. The concessions would be for a year, extendable to a full term of five years if there is satisfactory performance in the first year.
In the long term, the city bus operations would be taken over by the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system being prepared by KCCA. Tomorrow, KCCA will hold a special session to discuss the agreement and Erias Lukwago, the Lord Mayor, will preside over the meeting.