Changes to NDA Tower design could cost taxpayer Sh35 billion

Artistic impression of the NDA Tower

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government risks losing up to Sh35 billion following unapproved structural adjustments in the building plan of the proposed National Drug Authority-NDA headquarters in Kampala. This is part of the findings in a recent report by the Auditor General, John F.S Muwanga.

The report shows that NDA made changes to the tower still under construction without approval from the Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA.

“…I also noted that changes were made to the original building plans to cater for the adjustments to the outdoor and building basement parking and though the contract management team and the authority (NDA) had approved the adjustments and works has commenced in the time of the audit in August 2021, the amended building plans had not yet been approved by the Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority,” the report reads in part.

The 12-floor tower comprises offices, laboratories and a three-level basement parking area. The AG notes that the implementation of the unapproved building plan poses a risk of loss of funds in case the changes are rejected by KCCA, which might lead to the demolition of the entire project.

Information obtained from NDA indicates that the structural adjustments cost 10 percent of the entire project, which translates into Shillings 3.5 billion. Abias Rwamiwiri, the NDA Spokesperson, says that the changes were vital to increasing the functionality of the laboratory space.

While the Auditor General says the changes were made on the outdoor and basement areas of the floor, Rwamwiri insists that the adjustments were only made on floors that will host equipment. He also says that they informed KCCA in writing about the changes in working and a team of inspectors visited the site to see the changes.

Rwamwiri says the Authority followed all the necessary procurement guidelines.

According to the Physical Planning Act of 2010, developers are supposed to submit building plans prepared by a qualified planner to the Physical Planning department before the start of construction. These plans are supposed to be displayed on the public notice board for a period not less than 90 days to allow interested persons or groups to raise concerns about the project.

Once no objections are made, KCCA can approve the plans but in the case of any modifications being made, the developers are supposed to inform and request the physical planner in writing to approve the changes made before they can be implemented.

Villey Agaba, the KCCA Physical Planner for Kampala Central, says that NDA did not follow the right process when making the changes. According to Agaba, NDA began implementing the changes before notifying the authority.

“NDA made changes to their initial plan that was approved without informing us. We learnt about these changes on our own and wrote to them asking about the changes and that is when they wrote back to us to inform us. But even when they wrote, they did it late,” Agaba said.

The Auditor-General also raises queries in regard to delays in the completion of the project. The works which, began in October 2019 were supposed to be completed by October 2021. However, the project completion date has since been extended to March 2022. While the Auditor General attributes such delays to the failure of the authority to implement the contract, Rwamwiri told URN that they could not meet the set timelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The construction works stand at 70 percent completion.

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URN

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