Delays in completion of Gatuna One-Stop Border Post irks MPs

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised concern over delays in the completion of construction works of the Gatuna One Stop Border Post (OSBP). The issue came afore as management of Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) appeared before the oversight committee as part of ongoing scrutiny as a result of Auditor-General’s 2014/15 report, on Thursday.
Gatuna One-Stop Border Post construction has failed to meet the deadline. / File
Gatuna One-Stop Border Post construction has failed to meet the deadline. / File

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised concern over delays in the completion of construction works of the Gatuna One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

The issue came afore as management of Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) appeared before the oversight committee as part of ongoing scrutiny as a result of Auditor-General’s 2014/15 report, on Thursday.

The question regarding Gatuna OSBP was raised by MP Marie Josée Kankera, who wondered what had become of the project since the issuance of the construction contract.

“The Gatuna One Stop Border Post has delayed and when we visited the site, you could tell that the construction work had started but at some point abandoned for some time. A staff of RTDA told us that the contractor had failed and that there had been issues that required mediation until the contract was cancelled. I would like to know the status of the project today,” she said.

The Director-General of RTDA, Guy Kalisa, confirmed the contract that had been issued to Cheon Kwang Engineering Construction Company had been cancelled. It has since been re-issued to NPD Contractor Ltd.

“Everything is now under control. The new company is on site and begun works last week and the project will take seven months. The facility will include the road, the parking yard and the buildings. It is unfortunate that the contract had to be terminated and delayed in the process but it was really the last resort as there was no progress,” he said.

The project engineer, Francois M. Gihoza, told the committee that, initially, the project was slated to be complete in October 2016.

“When the project failed to meet completion deadline, we moved it ahead by 100 days and after that, we started the adjudication and arbitration process. We eventually ended at the Ministry of Justice for out-of-court settlement,” he said.

The first contractor abandoned the work at 33.26 per cent completion.

Although the company was demanding $6 million, it was paid $900,000 after arbitration.

MP Kankera queried the financial implication of the project since it was planned to cost Rwf6.3 billion.

“When a project delays, there is always worry that the initial budget may change. When you evaluate the work that the first firm had already done and the amount paid, what is the financial status?” she asked.

In response, Kalisa said the budget to continue with the construction works would come from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

To this, PAC chair Juvenal Nkusi expressed disappointment on how public funds were being mismanaged.

“You didn’t complete the project and now you are asking for money from the Ministry of Finance, yet that money would have gone into something else. Is that good management? What was done about this?” he wondered.

Capitalising on resources

The committee also heard of RTDA management’s understaffing concerns, to which PAC vice chairperson Theoneste Karenzi advised the agency to maximise available resources.

“Let’s learn how to use the limited resources that we have wisely. Maximise the few employees that you have and hold your engineers accountable. Carry out evaluations. When you look at our neighbours in the region, you will understand that it’s not about what you have, but how you use it,” he said.

The public hearings entered fifth day Friday with PAC receiving officials from Rwanda Development Board.

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