Construction work at the new Uganda Law Society (ULS) headquarters – ULS House on Babiiha Avenue ( Formerly Acacia Avenue) in Kampala has come to a stand still due to the Coronavirus outbreak, according to the Society’s President.
In 2018, during the reign of then Law Society President, Mr Francis Gimara, SC, the Society resolved to construct the new ULS House after it emerged that the old structure, which has ever since been demolished, was unfit and risky for occupation.
” The ULS structure was acquired as a bungalow. Subsequently, it was modified by adding a new floor on top of its concrete cast roof. The structure from its inception was not designed to be a double storied building” The Society’s President, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe revealed in a statement, adding:
” It could not hold the weight of another floor and as a result the same started sinking and developing cracks. This occupational hazard became more apparent when our neighbours started excavating, increasing the cracks and falling debris from our building”
The Law Society thus embarked on a procurement process for the construction of the new ULS House in accordance with Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) procedures, but later changed to Private procurement in a bid to save funds after it emerged the construction bills were inflated by 60%.
Now, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe says despite completion of the procurement processes, construction work on the project will not commence due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
” We now have a successful bidder that was to commence work in the course of [last] week, however given the current predicament and uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus we were reluctant to bear the potential burden and challenges of force majeure. Our fear has now become a reality”
Uganda confirmed her first case of Coronavirus on Sunday 22nd and has not reported any other cases as at the time of publishing this article, including fatalities or deaths.
The Government of Uganda has rolled out a raft of strict measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus including movement and gathering restrictions which have ever since led to ‘ remote working’ mainly from home.
The Construction of the Uganda Law Society House is being funded through partner donations, membership contributions and a presidential pledge.
So far, according to the President, Mr Kinobe, 6.3 Bn (Uganda Shillings) has been mobilised but only 1.3Bn ( Uganda Shillings) is available in hard cash and lies on the Society’s Construction Bank account.
” UGX 5Bn is the Presidential pledge made during the Annual Law Dinner. The President has assured me that this money will be paid in phases. The first phase shall be paid in the quota starting April 2020″ Mr Kinobe says.
It’s however not certain whether this Presidential pledge will be met as planned due to the Coronavirus outbreak which has put the Country into a lockdown and is claiming a toll on its financial resources.
Every member of the Law Society is required by way of the resolution adopted at the Extraordinary General Meeting held in 2018 to contribute atleast 4.2M (Uganda Shillings) to the Construction of the Uganda Law Society House.
However, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe says 85% of the 3,500 membership of the Law Society has not paid this contribution fee thus straining the construction project further.
” Only 15% of the membership have made their contribution as required by the EGM resolution” He said, adding,
” We continue to urge ULS members to take the commitment to contribute to the Construction of the ULS House as one of utmost importance”
In the Meantime…
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) is the National Bar Association charged with advising the Public on all matters of law and ensuring high standards of professionalism amongst Lawyers.