RSSB reacts to reported funds mismanagement during construction of Kigali Golf Course

On 28 July 2021 at 11:21

On Monday 26th July 2021, one of local media houses (Taarifa) run an article that triggered mixed public reactions. It was about the project of building Kigali Golf Course explaining that a committee of young Rwandan executives assigned to oversee its implementation mismanaged Rwf16 billion funds allocated to the project.

One day after the publication, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) which funded the project has refuted allegations related to mismanagement of funds allocated to the project.

The story reads that Rwanda Development Board (RDB) set up a joint committee in January 2018 to manage the funds and oversee the execution of the project.

It is said that ‘the team would expropriate the then 9-hole Kigali Golf Course and secure funds to hire an international contractor to construct a world-class golf course and a clubhouse with international standards’.

As the story goes; a French firm, Gregori International & Gary Player was awarded a US$4 million contract to design and construct new 9-holes and repair the existing 9-holes.

Later on, RDB handed over the project to RSSB as the beneficiary of the expected magnificent golf course that would add value to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

It is said that RSSB sought go ahead from the Minister of Finance to invest into the facility where it was authorized to register a private company with RDB that would run the project.

The company dubbed Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course LTD (RUGC) was created on August 9, 2019, three days after the RSSB Board Resolution authorizing its creation with a share capital of Rwf19.6 billion.

Alain Ngirinshuti was appointed the Board Chairman of RUGC while Josue Dushimimana was named the Managing Director.

Other members of the management committee include Ntwali Kevin Habineza, Brian Kirungi and Patrick Gihana Mulenga appointed board members. The committee was supposed to report to RSSB.

Taarifa reported that the committee was dogged by funds misuse, issuing tenders without competitive bidding and releasing payments without documents to back up invoices submitted by suppliers among others.

Towards the end of August 2019, RSSB increased the budget for the project from US$4 million to US$16 million but the course had not yet been completed by June 2020 when the CHOGM was initially scheduled in Kigali.

RSSB stand

Following publication of this story, RSSB has released a two-page statement providing details about the case.

The statement reads that the project aligns with Rwanda’s vision 2050 to become a tourism destination where ‘Rwandan authorities identified the existing Kigali Golf Course as an opportunity to create an iconic high-end facility which would meet the highest international standards, and which could eventually lead to a significant increase of domestic and international tourism’.

RSSB explained that RUGC was created to manage the project but denied allegations that tenders were offered illegally.

“All tenders were executed in accordance with best practices and value for money,” reads part of the statement explaining that RUGC is a private company that does not need to follow public institutions’ process.

RSSB further stated that key decisions such as hiring the main contractor Gregory International, were overseen by a joint development committee appointed by RDB; composed by RSSB, RDB, Rwanda housing Authority (RHA), Kigali City and Kigali Golf Club (KGC).

“ As the initial budgeting of the project of US$4 million was not sufficient to build a PGA standard course, the scope and the budget were revised to US$11 million and the scope of the initial tender was extended by the technical Committee and the Steering Committee composed by RSSB, RDB, RHA, Kigali City and KGC,” adds the statement.

RSSB has stated that the incredible coordination and collaboration of Rwanda public authorities saw the Golf Course construction completed in December 2020, as confirmed by the Course Architect, the project Supervisor and the Technical Committee.

Construction activities took one year and half, according to RSSB which revealed that the construction of a PGA standard golf course can take more than two years depending on the weather and soil type among other factors.

RSSB says that RUGC has been working on small upgrades and maintenance of the Golf Course as well as further developments around it since December.

It is said that the maintenance contract will be executed in the first years after delivery by Gregory International as the Golf Course construction company.

Chemicals destroyed the Golf Course

Early June this year, Taarifa published a story that some of RUGC employees negligently sprayed the Golf Course with harmful chemicals which destroyed grasses.

RSSB has revealed that the contractor is liable for damages caused.

“The golf course was scheduled to open at the end of June 2021, but due to an incident by selective herbicide that damaged part of the course, RUGC only opened the practice range end of June 2021, for golfers who provided positive feedback on the work carried out by RUGC and its partners. The contractor is contractually fully liable for all damages caused by that incident,” RSSB explained in the statement.

“After observing significant recovery of the course, RUGC was planning to open the entire Golf Course at the end of July 2021, but it has been postponed following new measures against COVID-19. RUGC will communicate on the official new opening date after the end of the lockdown.”

The current golf course sits on 65 from the initial 17 hectares before expansion.

RSSB says that RUGC has been working on small upgrades and maintenance of the Golf Course as well as further developments around it since December.