The Missing Links project, which is part of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project, has been hit by bribery accusations involving a renowned Member of Parliament.
Government of Uganda along with its agency National Information Technology Authority- Uganda (NITA-U) through a bidding process is searching for a contractor to complete development of the World Bank funded internet project. Six companies submitted in their bidding proposals for consideration.
Sources privy to the bidding process allege that some firms in contention of the Missing Links project are doing all they can to get the deal including bribing MPs to block the ongoing procurement process.
One of the MPs allegedly targeted by a Chinese company interested in the deal is influential Nandala Mafabi. He was allegedly offered $30, 000. We couldn’t establish if Mafabi accepted the money. Mafabi’s involvement in this bribery act is made known by another MP who preferred not to be named.
The revealing MP says Mafabi ‘was told by Chinese telecom company ZTE, one of the bidders for contract, to delay and disrupt the ongoing World Bank funded internet project, using his influence in Parliament.’
Mafabi appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on ICT recently accused NITA-U officials of taking bribes to give the bid to Huawei, another Chinese company. Mafabi’s statement, according to committee members were not backed with evidence.
It is also alleged that Mafabi has a history of dealings with ZTE, one of the six bidders for the Missing Links project. Mafabi is the landlord of Chinese companies in his luxurious buildings in Kampala and they have sponsored him for several trips to China.
“Mafabi should be thoroughly investigated to establish his motive in this NITA-U project,” the unhappy MP stated, adding, “Otherwise he will continue abusing parliament for personal gain.”
Recently, Mr Nandala was accused of taking bribes during his tenure as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson from 2006 to 2011 by a one Hamidah Nassimbwa, a member of FDC’s Women’s league.
In a leaked WhatsApp chat between the two enemies, Nassimbwa accused Mafabi of taking bribes adding that he robbed more than the PAC culprits.
She further alleges that the bribes Mafabi used to take, he used them to put up mega structures, one of which the Chinese company rents in Naguru, an upscale suburb of Kampala.
The Missing Links project will add more links to the Government backbone network (NBI/EGI) and to further ease operations and have more services go online, including application for passports, Driver’s license, National ID and etc., to increase the efficiency of service delivery and finally integrate our markets with International markets.
The Executive Director NITA-U James Saaka told Parliament that the evaluation is still going on and the successful bidder has not yet been awarded. The project’s bidding document was issued on August 14, 2017 and bids received November 7, 2017. Saaka explained that bidding document was developed by internal expertise resident in NITA-U that has managed the national backbone since 2007.