Stirling Civil Engineering Limited ongoing road works in Jinja City. Courtesy photo.

Fury as fmr. partner drags Jinja city council to court over unpaid money

(Last Updated On: 30 January 2023)

Like they say a friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship, two former business entities are going for each other’s throat over alleged breach of contract.

The legal battle line is drawn between the administration of Infrastructure Development and Management Ltd (IDM) and the Jinja City Council leadership following a bitter disagreement over money.

IDM is a privately registered engineering company that offers consultancy services in the country.

The company led by Engineer Ronald Menya was contracted by JCC to supervise the rehabilitation of some roads in the city for 15 months at shs745m beginning from 31 January, 2020 when Jinja was still a Municipality.

The total sum for the renovation of the roads in question was given to Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd at shs20b including additional works for the completion of Busoga Avenue that passes in front of the State Lodge.

Scope of work for IDM

IDM was to carry out consultancy services for design review and construction supervision of Busoga Road (0.35km), and completion of rehabilitation of Zikusooka Way (1.9km) and Main Street (0.3km) for JMC under USMID-AF Infrastructure Programme.

Currently, Stirling Company with its Site Engineer Yusuf Saleh is making final touches on some defects before officially handing over the roads to JCC in a ceremony to be presided over by President Yoweri Museveni any time before May.

Why and what is the contention about?

According to documents available now before the Commercial Division of the High Court in Kampala, IDM led by its Managing Director Eng. Ronald Menya faults JCC for refusing to pay his company for the work done.

Menya’s claim is premised on the 8 months when his contract was extended to enable him to complete the task at hand.

“…the consultant incurred additional costs when additional services were rendered for an additional period of 8 months which was granted by the employer Jinja City Council…,” Menya stated in one of his demand notes to the City Hall leadership.

The extension, according to records, was done following a formal request from IDM Eng. Menya cited some of the reasons justifying the same.

These include the suspension of works due to the COVID-19 pandemic that devastated the nation and a delay that resulted from the need to relocate and upgrade sewer lines on Busoga Road and Eng. Zikusooka Way; site encumbrances due to walls in the roadway which were still being resolved, and additional works that arose from the Design Review.

Consequently, the then City Clerk Ambrose Ocen (now in Mbale City) wrote back to IDM saying the request was received, discussed and granted.

“…following your request for an extension, the contract is hereby extended for 8 months i.e. from 5 May 2021 up to 5 January 2022…” reads in part the letter.

However, Ocen, in his letter dated 30 April, 2021 quickly sort of put a disclaimer stating that the extension shall be governed by the terms and conditions of the original contract.

It’s not surprising that JCC leadership now wants to thrash the claims by IDM using Ocen’s response, which did and does not attract any additional payments.

“….I am not indebted to the Respondent (IDM) in the sum of 339,500,000/= as claimed in the suit…and I have a good defence to the suit…,” reads in part an affidavit sworn and signed by Peter Mawerere the Deputy City Clerk.

Menya insists that JCC must pay, saying you cannot engage a company with professionals for additional 8 months without a single penny, something which defeats simple logic.

While issuing several demand notices before running to the court, Menya wonders why JCC chose to keep quiet and ignore the reminders which were formally submitted.

It’s not yet clear why a deputy Town Clerk who is not a substantive accounting officer filed the affidavit on behalf of the Council.

The affidavit drawn and filed by lawyers from the Attorney General’s regional offices situated at Plot 188 George Street in Mbale is in response to a suit which is for hearing on 1 February 2023.

The JCC Spokesperson Kitto Rajab declined to comment on the matter concerning the sub judice rule which restricts public discussion of matters pending before the courts.

IDM is being represented by Ntende, Owor and Company Advocates based at Ntinda in Kampala while the Attorney General has lined up lawyers from its Mbale-based regional office to defend JCC.

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