“Today we are in a training organised by CoST-Uganda in partnership with the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity (DEI), the infrastructure transparency initiative. CoST is in a partnership with the government of Uganda to improve the delivery of infrastructure projects in Uganda. We have decided to start with training so that we can better understand how we can help each other. The district integrity forum of Mbale has not met in a while and thus your participation in monitoring infrastructure projects has been low, but with this monitoring tool, we hope to strengthen your capacity in supporting the delivery implementation and supervision of public contracts” said Moses Bwire, Senior Ethics Officer, DEI.
Level of understanding of the IMT, CoST and DEI before the workshop;
Pre-Evaluation test was given to 27 of the 51 participants during the process of the training: During the training pre evaluation test was administered to the participants to assess their level of knowledge about Cost, DEI and IMT. The following are the findings.
Been involved in Monitoring performance and transparency of projects: 21 of the participants said they were involved about the monitoring performance and transparency of projects; While 6 claims that they do not have not been involved in Monitoring performance and transparency of projects.15 of the participants were aware about CoST while 12 did not know about CoST Uganda.25 of the participants have heard about IMT while 2 of the respondents have had about IMT. According to the data above 26 of the respondents had heard about infrastructure projects implementation in the districts before the training.
Moses Bwire from DEI, talking about the Role of the DIPFs in infrastructure transparency
Why you are not doing well in the districts is because you do not know how to manage information and this leads to grapevine and cliques. These forums are here to help you overcome this challenge, they are also here to help in responding to matters in a timely manner and resolutions got as soon as they happen, we do not need to push this from the centre added Mr. Bwire stating the relevance of disclosure.
Corruption, which the DIPF is supposed to address, has crippled the delivery of services. This forum brings on board a number of entities many of which are working together to rid society of corruption.Using the IMT will enable the district know how to detect corruption risks, mismanagement, quality of work, transparency, value for money and identify measures to address them.
“We have not had a partner before coming here to train us on the implementation of infrastructure projects before, this partnership is one of a kind and to know that this the first district that CoST and DEI are training is such an honour. One of the expectations from this meeting is that we shall also know how the money is spent in the engineering department and how the inputs we give lead to the outputs we get” noted the RDC, Mr. Shilaku James as he opened the meeting.
The six hour engaging training was facilitated by a team from CoST Secretariat, DEI and Multi-Stakeholder Group members, in his message, Mr. Erick Makumbi, challenged the forum members noting that being the leaders, “you are accountable to the people one, of the ways you are being accountable is to be there when needed. You are regularly in your environs, with this IMT you are able to look at a number of things, the worst thing that can happen to you as a leader is for a pit latrine under construction in your constituency to cave in. How will you feel going back to your people to tell them it happened? Now is the time to pay attention to the projects going on in your various circles of influence and interest, that way it is easier to detect and possibly stop a calamity from happening before it happens”
The district CAO Madam, Adongo Roseline sharing the district’s experience and practice on Infrastructure Transparency noted that; as a district we undertake infrastructure work in a number of departments, in health, production, agriculture etc. The heads of departments are not technical in this. So we have the works and technical department that supports the other departments. They visit the sites and give the Bills of Quantities (BoQs); they also cost these BoQs for allocation of funds. After that we do the planning; we have budgets approved and then we go through the procurement process.
These processes have a lot of data which is not used, and given the fact that, procurement and engineering language is complex, CoST approach seeks to support Procurement Entities establish strong information management systems, simplify complex data into information that informs decisions. The IMT is a more simplified version of the Infrastructure Data Standard; CoST is a recipe for better policies once appreciated, the IMT is a not a moment for the members to witch hunt those they have failed to come to agreement with, in attempt to affect delivery of infrastructure but a guide to enhance better contract performance and access to information noted Ms. Olive Kabatwairwe from CoST Uganda.
Mbale has an issue with limited capacity of service providers in infrastructure, for instance, the district may have the money, but they do not want to recruit the requisite manpower. “So in many instances we have had a situation where the site engineers keep taking instructions on what needs to change long after the project commenced. This eats into the profits of these service providers and could lead to site abandonment. We are trying to ensure that the teams working on this have the ability to see through the miss-planning that can arise from a service provider not knowing what they are doing. The CAO also decried the rate of influence peddling where technical persons and the politicians are interested in the projects, we have it on good authority that some of the sites abandoned in the district was because a lot of money changed hands at the start of the project leaving it with no money to complete it at the end, thus more sites being abandoned. Also having technical people who are incompetent is a challenge. Of over 120 districts in Uganda, only about 27 have registered engineers and in most of these, the engineers use diploma holders to deliver complex works and this is reflected in the quality of the work that is eventually delivered. We rely on technical people; if you rely on people who are technically incompetent then you also become incompetent. This clearly states the need for the DIPF to step up in putting their roles into actions.
Level of understanding of the IMT, CoST and DEI after the workshop;
The Post – Evaluation test was given to 27 of the 47 participants during the process of the training: During the training pre evaluation test was administered to the participants to assess their level of knowledge about CoST, DEI and IMT. The following are the findings; 21 of the participants said they were involved about the monitoring performance and transparency of projects; While 6 claims that they do not have not been involved in Monitoring performance and transparency of projects. 15 of the participants were aware about CoST while 12 did not know about CoST Uganda. 25 of the participants have heard about IMT while 2 of the respondents have had about IMT. According to the data above 26 of the respondents had knowledge about infrastructure projects implementation in the districts.
Committing the district’s action in infrastructure transparency, the LCV Vice Chairperson who closed the training noted that; as a district, we commit that we shall use the tool. We used to have a tool for the monitoring of infrastructure projects, but it was not as rich as this one. We did not have the citizen satisfaction component, this document answers that challenge for us. We shall continue to be in touch with you, and the next time you come back, you will see a difference. We shall stop being tourists and will become actual monitors. This business of going out to look at seven projects on the same day does not help; we shall only take on what we can take on for the assigned time durations so as to deliver high quality work.
The Mbale training was wrapped up with a radio talkshow on Step FM, featuring DEI, CoST and the DIPF member from the civil society with thirteen call-ins, many of which were demanding for information and citizen participation in the delivery of infrastructure projects.