Media reports indicated that UNRA warned EC last of the impending eviction after several talks of the commission to vacate the place to pave way for the construction of the Kamapla flyover project, fell on deaf ears.
Despite the compensation of Shs20bn in 2016, the EC has bypassed several deadlines to vacate the premises including one in 2020 which was called off due to the impending general election at the time, and another in June 2021 which has since passed.
Mr Allan Ssempebwa, the UNRA spokesperson said that lot two of the project affects part of Centenary Park, Kitgum area, and the EC offices but they are pending relocation of the occupants for the preliminary work which is long overdue to commence.
“The law allows us to demolish or force eviction of an entity or individual whom we have compensated and has refused to relocate. The EC area that you are asking about was cleared and we should be demolishing that area,” Mr Ssempebwa said.
The government has since released an additional Shs40bn, which brings to Shs60bn, the total amount for the electoral commission to facilitate their relocation but the procurement process has hit a snag with another investigation launched a fortnight ago by the Inspectorate of government which is a lurking potential for derailing the already overdue process of relocation.
In November 2016, the EC started the process of vacating the current offices started after they published in a local publication for an open public procurement process, three bidders showed interest but did not add to their expectations of an ideal space for offices.
In April 2017, another process commences through the required PPDA regulations and eight bidders showed interest but they were also kicked out on grounds of failed eligibility and administrative requirements.
In August 2017, another advert was placed in newspapers and nine bidders showed applied and the best bidder faced contestation from competitors which derailed the process pushing it to the following year after which the bid validity expired.
In June 2021, EC opted for a direct procurement process after receiving three unsolicited bidders but they got interested in two which they separately visited. Upon their initial assessment, Property Services Limited ticked most of its boxes for what an ideal premise would look like.
Mr Mulekwah said, “We have always been looking for enough parking space, stores, warehouses, enough space for offices, it has enough room for expansion and printer space. We needed a place that can give us our own nomination for presidential candidates and a tally center and other activities.”
Mr Paul Bukenya, the EC spokesperson said, “The continued stay in this place is affecting us including the upcoming elections of women elections and LC1 and LC2. Whenever we go for tallying or nominations at a place like Kyambogo University, the entire neighborhood closes their activities for all the days we stay there.
A President Museveni letter dated March 7, 2022, about the same subject indicated that a report had been submitted to him indicating that the preferred building in Butabuka is located in a wetland, giving the Bweyogerere building which is on four acres an edge.
But a certificate seen by this newspaper indicated that Property Services Limited’s boundaries are 150meters away from the Nema line and had been commissioned by President Museveni in 2008 with all clearances including Kampala City Authority (KCCA).
However, multiple sources who did not want to be named in this story saying it has become a sensitive matter told this publication that the procurement process has since shifted from looking at technical issues and some people are fighting for their individual interests.
“Most of these delays are sponsored by parties interested in one way or another. For instance, EC is renting on three buildings in Ntinda, Luzira, and Kyambogo and the owners of these places wouldn’t want to lose this money,” one of the sources said.
Ms Ali Muniira, the IGG spokesperson said that the investigations are still ongoing and are yet to take shape, “By next week we shall have a better picture of the investigations as we await reports from various entities.”
The IGG investigation follows another process by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) was petitioned in 2019 on grounds of fraudulent procedures but the tribunal got EC off the hook and cleared the acquisition of a new home
Asked what this means for the EC, Mr Leonard Mulekwah, the EC secretary, said that they are “stuck” and still encountering losses as the commission grapples with the problem of floods, disruptions, and unhealthy neighborhoods.
“It is the mandate of government to house us, we already have so many problems of floods which ravage the place whenever it rains. Even before the construction processes came up, we had requested for relocation but as it is now we can’t move until the IGG clears us,” Mr Mulekwah said in an interview for this story.