Uproar as Parliament procures Shs 7m flag pole for Speaker’s car

GYAGENDA KABUUBI

On March 9, Parliament published a list of companies that had won contracts for the supply for various goods and services to the legislature.

Among them was a Shs 7.1m bid for fixing a flagpole on vehicle UG 0257H which is understood to be a Land cruiser V8, procured as support car for the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

This minister fixed an improvised flagpole. Could it be because of the cost?

The contract was awarded to Japan Auto Care Ltd which is said to have been the lowest bidder. This particular bid award had gone unnoticed until a journalist posted on social media that it attracted the attention of the public as well as MPs.

On Twitter, several wondered whether the flagpole being procured is made of gold coated metals while National Female Youth MP Anna Adeke Ebaju cheekily suggested that the metal must have been imported.

Other MPs were equally shocked with some suggesting the need for an investigation into the workings of Parliament’s procurement department.

Some officials at Parliament have tried to explain that buying and fixing a flagpole is a costly exercise, a Google search revealed that at most, it can cost about Shs 100,000.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza’s official car. It is unclear whether her flagpole cost the same amount!

Amazon.com an online market indicates on its website that it has sold flagpoles to VIPs including diplomats in Uganda at $19.99 (Shs 71,964) plus $3.33 (Shs 11,988) for shipping costs which comes to a total of Shs 83,952.

The director of Communications and Public Affairs at Parliament Chris Obore threw the blame at the procurement law that he said left Parliament’s hands tied.

“We have pre-qualified service providers as per the law. We contacted them to submit quotations and the first bidder quoted Shs 7.64m, the second quoted Shs 7.5m and the third submitted a bid of Shs 7.1m.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s car with a covered flagpole in Parliament’s parking lot.

Under the procurement law, you go with the lowest bidder,” Obore said. According to Obore, much as Parliament would have loved to have the flagpole fixed at a much lower fee, it is bound by the dictates of the law.

“It may be expensive depending on how you look at but that is the procurement law,” Obore said.