Jinja vows to demolish TotalEnergies’ walls blocking road construction works 

(Last Updated On: 10 August 2023)

Jinja | Enough is enough! Jinja City Council authorities say they now have no option but to demolish the perimeter wall of the TotalEnergies Ltd depot which is standing on the road reserve along Clerk Road.

The Principal Town Clerk John Choli Guloba says they have already sought guidance from the Attorney General (AG) Alex Kiryowa Kiwanuka who advised them to write for permission to secure a court order.

“…our first approach was diplomacy through dialogue, so after getting the court order, we shall come with the grader and pull down the wall because these fellows think they are above the law…” Guloba vowed.

Guloba is wondering why an investor like TotalEnergies Ltd should try to inadvertently sabotage an infrastructure meant to facilitate his business activities in the area.

The officials of the energy company had for months now, given several empty promises to pull down the walls situated along Clerk Road which ends at the main gate of Kirinya Prison.

“…we have commenced the process of shifting the boundary wall as requested and undertake to complete the works before 30 April 2023 in line with the scope of works agreed with the Jinja City Planner…” reads in part a letter of commitment signed by Everlyne Kwikiriza, the Operations Manager.

However, the Jinja City Council authorities rejected this request arguing that the officials of TotalEnergies Ltd have on several occasions been notified and reminded to act in vain.

“…this is to inform you that your request is not granted…the delay is causing high-cost implications to the project which is affecting the progress…” reads in part a 20 April 2023 letter signed by Peter Mawerere on behalf of JCC.

In one of the meetings attended by the two parties at the depot, Kwikiriza assured Council to be given only two weeks to complete the work which would not go beyond May.

To date, only half of the wall has been removed, leaving drainage works in the section hanging

The promise by the Deputy RCC, Henry Kitambula who had assured officials that he would, for once, handle the matter at “a higher level of government” hit a snag because TotalEnergies Ltd is simply too big for any person in Jinja to manage.

This was a unanimous resolution reached during the 13 Stakeholders’ Site Meeting for the Rehabilitation of 5.2 km of roads, namely Clive and Clerk. (1.891Km), Bell Avenue East and West (1.466km), completion of Busoga Avenue. (0.75km), traffic signalling and drainage works (1.782km).

The UGX18b tender under USMID-AF, Cluster 4, and Batch 2 project was awarded to Zhongmei Engineering Group Ltd while consultancy was given to Professional Engineering Consultants Ltd which is also carrying out similar works in Lugazi and Kamuli Municipalities.

The Jinja road works were supposed to have been completed by 13 June 2023 but the contractor requested an extension which the Council has granted until 31 October 2023.

The contractor cited unfavourable weather with heavy rains, and delays in the relocation of utility service lines including Umeme, Telecom Companies, NWSC, and NITA with different procurement protocols.

The wall in the centre of controversy now blocks the project as pipes are left hanging on the surface. Photo by Nelly N. Otto.

The officials at City Hall fear missing out if the project is not complete by the deadline since the World Bank project is ending by the end of this year before considering another multi-billion programme.

Participants during the meeting which included politicians led by the Jinja City Mayor Fazilla Kawuma noted with concern the defiance exhibited by the officials of TotalEnergies which has stalled the work.

However, some people have blamed the ongoing controversy on greed by some officials at the City Hall who used their position to discourage the energy company from removing the walls.

“…we are dealing with a group of wolves dressed in civil service dress who are on a rampage getting money from partners who eventually become stubborn due to internal contradictions…” some officials said on condition of anonymity.

This is the second time that Jinja City is embroiled with investors over a perimeter wall after a similar one about two years ago with Ntake Bakery following the release of two different survey reports by the then Jinja Municipal Staff Surveyor Robert Kitimbo and the Ministry of Lands.

It’s not yet clear how the saga will be de-escalated since the main funder, World Bank, (which has insidiously just suspended funding all projects in Uganda over the recently enacted Anti Homosexually Act) does not want to hear the project riddled with conflicts, and some stakeholders want the matter sorted out peacefully.

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