Sub contractors in the pavement of Kazo-Kamwenge road lay down tools over unfair terms

Sub contractors in the pavement of Kazo-Kamwenge road lay down tools over unfair terms

BY ALEX TAREMWA

ataremwa@nokiamail.com

KIRUHURA. Over 15 companies sub contracted by China Railways Seventh Group Corporation Ltd, the prime contractor of the 75 km Kazo-Kamwenge road have laid down tools over what they say are unfair terms of  engagement.

On March 19 the companies that have been doing stone pitching on the road met and shared the problems at the work and resolved not to resume work until they have been addressed by revising  terms of the contract and, in some aspects, the lead contractor respecting what was agreed  on at the start.

On March 20 they meet the Resident Engineer Bala Krishna Rao presented their grievances and resolutions from the previous day’s meeting which are that; no subcontractor should get back to work basing on this old contract even though they were threatening to council contracts and new subcontracting until when these issues are solved.

Other resolutions were that calculations should be based on the tones as signed for when collecting materials not in cubic meters and UNRA (Uganda National Road Authority) should step in to save the locals (local sub contractors)

They say China Railways Seventh Group is subjecting them to buy the main construction materials; cement, hard core and stone dust from it at exorbitant price.  For example, they say are buying a bag of cement at Shs 35,000 when in the normal market it is between Shs 28000- Shs 30,000.

“They subjected us to buy cement in tones. Each tone according to the contract we signed is Shs 700,000. There are 20 bags of cement in each, when you calculate you find that each bag is sold to you at Shs 35000, yet this not the normal price of cement on the market,” says Francis Onyango of GOIS services Uganda Ltd.

On top of the high price the cement is fetched from the company store in Ibanda Town and transported to the construction site about 30 kilometers away towards Kazo in Kiruhura by the sub contractor.

Mr Onyango who has since left the site and went back to Kampala says the company “came up with funny calculations which are eating all the sub contractors’ profits and capital.”

At first, he said, it was assumed that all the main materials (cement, hard core and stone dust) will be purchased (from the China Railways) in tones but they later they begun calculating in cubic meters where all the money a sub contractor is supposed to get paid is consumed by expenses on the main materials-therefore goes back to the Chinese Railways.

Each of the company is given a stretch to work on-stone pitch, after work is done, then the company is assigned another stretch. They supply you the main materials whose cost is deducted from the money they are supposed to pay you for the work done.

 “You collect the main materials from the site using a form where the amount of tones you fetch is filled and you sign but when it comes to calculating the materials you have used they don’t consider that sheet, they come and measure cubic meters of the work done and say with this cubic meters you used cement or sand of this amount which is far much higher than the tones you fetched from the site,” says Mr Onyango.

Mr Ali Mwanda of Expo  Equipment Dealers said in Article three of the agreement  they indicated that hard core stones used would be measured by using 0.435 ton/Sqm while stone dust will be measured using 0.163 tons/Sqm.

He said in the same agreement it is indicated that they will pay for a ton of hard stone for Shs 27360 and a tone of stone dust Shs 18240

“That article gave us headache, it was confusion, nobody understood it, it is now the trouble causer. We are saying why they can’t use the language we understand. When they calculate using that you cant get any money. What is hurting is that our capital is no more. Yet we borrowed money from banks and colleagues to inject in this business,” Mr Mwanda says.

He after they have been contracted one has to look for money/ borrow for renting houses, get food for the workers, money for paying the workers allowances, money for excavating drainage system, timber and water among other materials needed which the sub contractor has to look for.

According to the contract, the rate is Shs 33000 per square meter worked on inclusive of all the costs. Mr Onyago who was contracted to work on 140 meter stretch and expected to earn Shs 11.6 m has found himself getting  about Shs 3 million with all Shs 8.7million being consumed by cost of main materials.

“We think they are trying to fail Ugandans such that they bring their fellow Chinese who have been working them in Tanzania. We ask the government not to allow this. This work should be done be Ugandans,” says Mwanda.

Chine Railways wanted to retain 10 percent of the money due to each of the sub contractor but Mr Mwanda said they refused and wanted it paid after three or four months after completion of the work like other companies.

“We refused because their project would be taking three years, and you keep our money for three years? We rejected that. And they are calculating 10 per cent from the gross total. Yet they should first remove costs of the materials and then deduct 10 percent on the net balance,” he says.

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