Dott Services Ltd must be compensated, Court of Appeal maintains
The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the High Court to have the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) pay compensatory damages worth Shs29bn to Dott Services, a construction company for delaying it to commence roadworks in Eastern Uganda.
Justice Elizabeth Musoke of the Court of Appeal in her September 28 judgment maintained that the decision of the High Court to compensate Dott Services was rightly arrived at.
“The allegation that the monies paid to Dott were not payable cannot be sustained. I earlier stated that UNRA, upon its own voluntary evaluation, deemed that Dott was entitled to payment of Shs29b for the relevant delays. It could not, therefore, assert otherwise,” she ruled.
Adding: “I would also dismiss the allegation that Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) acted fraudulently when it approved the payment made to UNRA. My assessment of the evidence revealed that UNRA acted independently from PEC, when it approved the payment to Dott Service .
“Whereas, PEC recommended the payment of Shs33b, UNRA paid a lesser amount of Shs29b. This means that the final computation of the money paid to Dott was done by UNRA and cannot have been due to fraudulent acts of PEC whose evaluation was overlooked.”
The other justices who concurred with the judgment were Muzamiru Kibeedi and Christopher Gashirabake.
Court documents show that in 2010, UNRA entered into two road construction agreements with Dott Service for the maintenance and construction of Tororo-Mbale road (49km) and Mbale-Soroti road (103km).
The signing of the contracts took place on October 22, 2010, and the agreed commencement date for their execution was November 21, 2010.
The roadworks were expected to be concluded in 18 months.
Unra was required under the relevant contracts to take certain steps to ensure that the roadworks commenced as soon as possible.
However, UNRA delayed by 509 days, an omission that prompted Dott Services to seek compensation in court.
UNRA, subsequently, contracted PEC to evaluate the compensation claims. After several discussions, PEC finally zeroed down on compensating Dott Services ggg Shs12b for the Tororo-Mbale and Shs20b for the Mbale-Soroti road, totaling to Shs33b compensation.
But there were subsequent discussions between UNRA and Dott that saw them settle on even a much lower compensation figure of Shs29b, which is the amount UNRA paid to Dott.
In 2016, UNRA initiated an internal audit into the amount of money to be paid to Dott. The findings of Mr Moses Kasakya, Unra’s director of Internal Audit, stated that Dott was overpaid and that it was entitled to a lesser compensation of about Shs8b. UNRA then instituted proceedings against Dott and PEC before the High Court.
Via Daily Monitor online