The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) has directed the Parliamentary Commission to halt the procurement process for the new chamber integrated security system citing irregularities.
PPDA says that it received a complaint from a whistleblower citing irregularities in the procurement of the integrated security system for the new parliament chamber worth Shs 39 billion. This is according to a letter dated February 8, 2021, by Benson Turamye, the PPDA executive director addressed to the clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige.
The letter seen by URN says that the whistleblower’s complaint alleges that the current integrated security system was procured, operated and maintained by the Uganda Police Force since 2014 and that on parliament’s request, police designed the new integrated security system for the new chambers as an upgrade.
The construction of the Shs 206 billion parliament new chamber by Roko Construction Limited started in August 2017. The building is expected to provide more space and offices compared to the current chambers. It will increase the number of seats for the MPs from the current 100 to 600. It will have 9 floors comprising an ultra-modern museum, state of the art archiving facility and gallery and others.
“The director Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) approve a request for approval of procurement of the integrated security system estimate at Shs 39 billion on 24th August 2020 despite a recommendation by the director Litigation and Compliance of 8th September 2020 that the Uganda Police Force undertakes all aspects of security for seamless integration since the force is in charge of surveillance of parliamentary building,” reads part of the letter.
Turamye further reveals that the whistleblower’s complaint says that regardless of these recommendations, parliament’s procurement and the ICT departments started a procurement process under the restricted method of procurement and invited bids from four companies; Technology Associates Ltd, CRJE, Emerald Telecom (U) Ltd and Infinity Computer and Company Ltd.
“In exercise of its regulatory function in Section 8 (c) of the PPDA Act 2003, the Authority has instituted an audit into the matter. You are requested to halt the procurement process and submit the procurement action file for the above-mentioned subject,” further reads Turamye's letter.
Turamye demanded that parliament submits the required procurement documents to the on-going audit exercise team not later than Wednesday, February 10.
Part of the Shs 39 billion budget for the integrated security system, Shs 7.7 billion is for video surveillance equipment, Shs 17 billion for the access control system, Shs 4.9 million for the main data centre among others.
Helen Nanteza Kawesa, the parliament deputy director of communications and public relations says that they are in receipt of Turamye's letter and that all the required documents would be given to PPDA as required.
She, however, said that they are confident that they acted within the law and that the Uganda Police was fully involved in the procurement. According to Kawesa there was a committee of 20 people constituted to harmonise and oversee the procurement process to build on the systems that are already in existence.
Kawesa added that the evaluation committee also had a police representative and that he was part of the decision making. She said that the ICT director did not individually take decisions on the matter since the committee he chaired involving other representatives from Roko Construction and architects took decisions.
She further explained that they opted for restrictive bidding since parliament does not have a classified budget and therefore advised by the ministry of Finance to carry out restrictive bidding since security is a sensitive matter and did not want too much information about the integrated system to be out in the public domain.