LIRA. Locals in Lira District have rejected two classroom blocks at Ocamonyang Primary School in Agali Sub-county over shoddy work.
The Shs60m-blocks were constructed under Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP), a northern Uganda redevelopment programme.
Locals say although their school is needy, the alleged poorly constructed buildings would wreak havoc on the already vulnerable community. Instead, they have proposed that all those involved in the implementation of the project should account for the millions of shillings allegedly “swindled” while executing the work.
The six-month project that commenced in February was supposed to be handed over to the community last month.
The contract was awarded to a local contractor, Morata Co. Ltd.
The area LC3 chairperson, Mr Charles Opio Agen, doubted the actual cost spent on the work.
“Some district leaders could have pocketed kickbacks leaving the contractor with very small amount of money to do the work,” he alleged.
The Lira senior community development officer, Mr Francis Okello Olwa, alleged that the building may soon turn into a death trap if children are allowed to use it.
The Lira District vice chairperson, Mr George Okello Ayo, said: “The project is satanic and we are going to blacklist the contractor. He will not be allowed to implement any construction project in the entire district in future.”
Mr Okello said they will name and shame the contractor with the aim of exposing him countrywide.
The chairman school management committee, Mr Alex Okello, said “I have never witnessed such shoddy work since my childhood.”
“When I saw that the floor and the wall had developed cracks yet the work was still ongoing, I complained but I was being looked at as a bad person. We want the entire building demolished and the project removed from here because it might have been brought with ill intentions,” he says.
The Resident District Commissioner, Mr Robert Abak, blamed the mess on the community.
“Members of the community are equally to blame for this mess because they failed to own and supervise it. But nonetheless, we are going to demand for the project documents and also carry out investigation with the aim of blacklisting the contractor,” he said.
The director of Morata Company Limited, Mr Denis Odongo, told Daily Monitor on Saturday that it was not his wish to do shoddy work to tarnish the reputation of his company.
“First of all, I was given only three months to finish the work since the community could not wait any longer to begin utilising the classrooms. Now, as I began the work, a number of complaints started coming up from different directions. I did address some of the genuine concerns,” he said.
According to Mr Odongo, the community became so happy upon the completion of the work in July. But when the children messed up the structure, complaints emerged again.
“To be honest, you cannot place the desks to lean against the wall. The defect came as a result of desks leaning against the wall. I am going to work on the wall. It was not my intention to do shoddy work,” Mr Odongo added.
The PRDP desk officer in Lira, Mr Geoffrey Ojuka Acuti, told this newspaper on Saturday that the engineer will assess the alleged damage.
“If the beneficiaries have raised complaints, they must be addressed before any handover can take place. Since the problems have been identified, the engineer will go to the site, assess it and advise accordingly but also the contractor will correct the reported defect,” he said.