The Minister of Works and Transport, Hon. Monica Ntege Azuba, has committed to supporting infrastructure transparency and accountability as the CoST Uganda Champion. The announcement came as part of CoST Uganda’s high-level multi-stakeholder Strategic Engagement Meeting which sought to raise demand for good governance in public infrastructure and present preliminary findings from its Scoping Study.
Uganda has recently seen a boom in mega-project infrastructure spending, delivering vital services when considering that only 20% of its citizens have access to electricity and basics such as access to clean water are a rarity (Guardian, 2017). Initial findings from CoST Uganda’s Scoping Study show that there is often strong proactive disclosure regarding the tender process and contract award. However, there is a lack of transparency beyond tender including project identification, funding, feasibility and changes to contract time/cost during implementation.
Through their analysis, CoST Uganda has identified key barriers to information disclosure on the ground. These include:
- poor information management systems and limited capacity of Procuring Entities;
- scepticism by certain stakeholders regarding the potential benefits of wider disclosure;
- limited awareness of the legal requirements for disclosure;
- absence of agency mandated to collect, compile and disseminate information on the sector;
- lack of opportunity for engagement between government, industry and civil society;
- nonexistence of legal mandate for infrastructure data disclosure.
CoST Uganda presented preliminary recommendations to stakeholders at the event to gather feedback and identify potential partners. From capacity building exercises to data collection standardisation and advocacy activities, CoST Uganda will take on board the comments received and refine the Scoping Study accordingly for publication next month.
Hon. Monica Azuba Ntege, Minister of Works and Transport, said: “Lack of public awareness and participation in Government programmes is of concern and needs to be urgently addressed. Though we have registered great achievements, we have to look continuously for a way to improve our work. I commit the Ministry of Works and Transport to be a CoST champion in Uganda by spearheading mobilization and convening other institutions to play their expected roles.”
Following the meeting, participants visited the Kampala Capital City Authority road improvement scheme in the Kawempe and Lubaga district where CoST’s Head of Programmes, John Hawkins, presented the CoST Assurance process. This included explaining that an Assurance Team would foster a constructive dialogue with the contractor and supervisor when visiting a construction site, taking a factual approach to reporting their observations.
In relation to the programme’s Assurance process, Hon. Nathan Byanyima, CoST Uganda Multi-Stakeholder Group Chariperson, said: “We have received a positive reception from the Institute of Professional Engineers and the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers nominating at least five engineers with a good background and who are experienced to conduct the Assurance Process in Uganda. We are happy that, our relationship with the first two Procurement Entities, Ministry of Works and Transport and Kampala Capital City Authority is promising, so accessing the relevant information and project sites will be easy.”
Nathan Byanyima and John Hawkins were joined by other stakeholders for a live NTV Uganda talk show debate on infrastructure transparency. Check out the full programme below or visit the CoST Uganda website for further information.