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PPDA tribunal suspends Makerere main building procurement process as bidder allege irregularities

The main building, in the style of British architecture of the 1940s, had high white walls and blue-shuttered windows before the fire that broke out in the early morning of 20 September 2020 turned it into rubble (PHOTO/File)

The main building, in the style of British architecture of the 1940s, had high white walls and blue-shuttered windows before the fire that broke out in the early morning of 20 September 2020 turned it into rubble (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA —The Appeals Tribunal of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA), a body responsible for regulation and supervision of procurement and disposal of government-owned property and other assets has instructed Makerere University to immediately halt the bidding process for the restoration and construction of the iconic Ivory Tower, pending reviews.

In a letter dated January 17, Mr. Atiku Saki Mansoor, PPDA Appeals Tribunal Registrar directed Makerere University Accounting Officer Mr. Yusuf Kiranda to halt the process and submit to the PPDA tribunal, the entire procurement action file for review after bidders petitioned the regulator alleging irregularities in the bidding process.

“In accordance with Section 89 (5) of the PPDA (Amendment) Act 2021 and Regulations 17 and 18 of the PPDA (Tribunal) (Procedure) Regulations, 2016, you are hereby ordered to suspend any further action on this procurement process with the exception of the extension of bid validity and securities where required,” Mr. Atiku wrote in a directive to Makerere University.

He also noted the Tribunal had received an application for Administrative Review from VCON Construction (U) Ltd, one of the bidders.

“This is to request you to submit to the Tribunal, not later than January 19, 2022, the entire procurement action file, which should include the following documents for review: The invitation for bids to the various bidders, bid proposals submitted by the bidders, Copy of the detailed bidding document issued to the bidders, Record of issue and receipt of bids, All forms related to this procurement, The evaluation report and minutes of the Evaluation Committee, Contracts Committee minutes for this procurement and All correspondence and any other documentation related to this,” Mr. Atiku added.

Makerere University last year said it had concluded all structural and architectural designs necessary for the reconstruction of its iconic main building, burnt to ruins in September 2020. The basement was the only part of the building that was not damaged.

The main building, in the style of British architecture of the 1940s, had high white walls and blue-shuttered windows before the fire that broke out in the early morning of 20 September 2020 turned it into rubble.

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the vice-chancellor of Makerere University, told reporters that the institution needed at least UGX15 billion (about US$4,166,000) to reconstruct their main building, which was a symbol of higher education in Uganda and Africa.

The MasterCard Foundation announced it was contributing US$1 million towards the reconstruction of the main building last year.

Several other donors, including alumni, are also contributing towards the restoration of the iconic complex.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, the university management and the police instituted a committee to determine the cause of the blaze and assess the extent of the damage.

The management moved the offices of the vice-chancellor, the deputy vice-chancellor for finance and administration, and that of the university secretary [which had been housed in the main building] to another building.

Similarly, the offices of the university bursar, the directorate of human resources, the directorate of internal audit, the public relations office, and the council room were also moved to another facility on the campus.
The fire destroyed practically all hard copy documents in the offices of the vice-chancellor, his deputy for finance and administration, the directorates of human resources and internal audit, and the central registry.

But all student data, including academic records, which were stored digitally on the academic information management system and also backed up at the Uganda Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, was kept safe.

Investigators from the ministries of works and transport and internal affairs early this year ruled out arson as a cause of the fire and said the blaze “might have been a result of electrical faults in the installation”.

They called for the demolition of the entire building and reconstruction of a new one, the overhaul of electrical systems in a number of campus buildings, the installation of a fire hydrant, and the recruitment of electrical experts.

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