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Former Kaabong CAO admits paying contractor in error

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The Public Accounts Committee (Local Government) has held the former Chief Administrative Officer for Kaabong district, Joel Musisi liable for mismanagement of funds for a building project.

According to an unqualified opinion for Kaabong District Local Government by the Auditor General for the year ended 30 June 2021, Shs328 million was paid out for the construction of the first phase of the council chambers.

However, the contract that was supposed to run for three months from March to June 2021 was abandoned by the contractor despite being paid over 90 per cent by the district.

Legislators on the committee observed that while he served as the CAO for Kaabong District, Musisi approved an initial payment of shs73.03 million to the contractor as per the law to commence the project.

However, Musisi approved another payment of shs255.6 million after months, before the project had made headway something that left MPs discontented.

Martin Kiplangat, the serving CAO for Kaabong District, told the committee on Tuesday, 12 July 2022 that only  excavation of the foundation has been done.

He added that the contract was awarded on 09 March 2021 and was supposed to be completed by June 2021 which obligation the contractor failed to meet.
“The District gave an extension for the project that ended on 30 June 2022 but nothing has been done yet. We have tried to get in touch with the contractor but he has been elusive,” Kiplangat said.

Ibrahim Akorio, the Acting Engineer Kaabong District said that he raised red flags about the project and spoke against its progress, calls that were ignored by the leadership.
“We do not have ownership of the land for the project. Secondly, the soil test was not done and the amount allocated was not enough for the work,” Akorio said.

Musisi agreed to have errored in approving the second payment to the contractor and appealed to the committee for time to make good on the errors made.
“I request the committee to give us three months within which we can have this project take off to its completion,” Musisi requested.

MPs said that the CAO ensures the funds are refunded in a bid to get another contractor to execute the project.

Hon. Ibrahim Kyoto (NRM, Budiope West County) observed that the three months requested cannot suffice for the former CAO to recover the funds and go ahead to execute the construction of the council chambers.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi tasked Musisi to focus on fully recovering the project funds and paying them back to Government accounts by 12 October 2022.

He also directed the CID department of Parliament to track down the contractor so that they are held responsible for the pending works at the Kaabong Council chambers.
“For the other officers, we will jointly hand you over to Police along with the CAO and the moment that money is recovered, tougher disciplinary actions should be taken,” Mapenduzi added.

The Permanent Secretary at the Local Government Ministry, Benjamin Kumumanya agreed with legislators that the former Kaabong CAO be held financially liable for the project.

He added that other officers including the District Planner and Procurement Officer ought to be held professionally accountable for the poor progress of works for the district’s project.
“All civil servants under Section 12 of the Public Service Act 2008 are supposed to be professional. You have a right to withdraw and say I will not be party to unclear activities. It is more of collusion than coercion for someone to sign in the manner the former CAO did,” said Kumumanya.

He agreed that police should apprehend the contractor if they fail make themselves available for the project work.

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