Secrets why construction giant-ROKO construction Company Ltd is not intimidated by a current legal battle involving a paltry debt of Shs2bn owed to Roofings Ltd have emerged.
Roofings Ltd, through her lawyers M/S Simon Tendo Kabenge last Friday, filed an application before the High Court seeking to wound up and liquidate ROKO Construction Ltd over the above debt.
In the petition published in the media on Monday, Roofings Ltd does not state the amount of money owed to her by Roko Construction Ltd.
However, details obtained from documents filed at the Commercial Court in Kampala indicate ROKO owes Roofings Ltd and Roofings Mills Ltd Shs165m and $555,000 (roughly Shs2bn) respectively.
“Though ROKO is facing temporary financial issues, the money they are indebted to Roofings Ltd is not alarming. It doesn’t call for such a harsh move,” affidavits from court sworn by Roko construction Ltd officials indicate.
Details also indicate the overdue days are between 263 to 341 days as on November 30th, 2020 which doesn’t quality the owed monies as a bad debt.
“These are the exact dates on when the debt was due; on average 10 month old,” the documents further state.
“The entire supply was $2.4m in 4 batches of $600,000 every after three months and spread across 12 months and so far one consignment hasn’t been cleared.”
Top honchos at Roko Construction Ltd believe this debt is too small to cause the wound up of the company that is currently active on 24 construction sites worth USD206m (roughly Shs800bn). These are mainly government projects. Among the projects that are on course include parliament expansion (200bn), Inspector General of Government head offices UGX70.3b, ministry of finance treasury UGX77.7b, Mbarara market construction UGX27b, Uganda Police Jinja UGX25b, Kampala flyover project on utilities relocation UGX27.3b, Kisekka market UGX81.4b among other government construction projects being undertaken by the company.
The timing of the petition, according to our sources, is not accidental! It is suspected Roofings Ltd and her lawyers are being used by the mafia in the construction industry to crash Uganda’s leading local construction company.
ROKO is the only local construction firm majoring in civil works that has managed to wade off competition from Chinese firms that have flooded the Ugandan market.
“There is an underhand plot to take advantage of the situation and wipe Roko out of the market,” sources close to the industry workings told this Newspaper.
Till last Friday, ROKO has had a good working relationship with Roofings Ltd spanning over 25 years.
Records indicate since 1994, Roofings Ltd /Roofing Rollings Ltd have supplied Roko Construction Ltd materials worth more than Shs222bn in a trade arrangement that has facilitated the government policy of Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU).
Both ROKO and Roofings are locally owned companies, taking a huge chunk of government projects.
Analysts are now wondering where the Roofings Ltd move leaves this kind of trade arrangement as ROKO is the largest consumer of steel since the company is working on huge government projects that consume steel.
“It is with sadness that after ROKO has had a business relationship with Roofings for over 25 years, they have chosen this as their preferred course of action. It is further to be noted that the outstanding amounts owed to Roofings Ltd is to the tune of UGX 165,000,000 and USD 555,000 and not the astronomical amounts that are claimed by some as being the outstanding amount. Also the amounts are on average 10 month overdue and not 2 years as stated in the media. As always we are confident that the truth shall prevail and that attempt to tarnish the reputation of ROKO will also fail,” an official at the construction firm said.
According to ROKO Construction Ltd Managing Director, Mark Koehler, the company has been actively completing projects in Uganda for the last 50 years.
“We have built up a very strong base of suppliers and sub-contractors that we have, throughout the years empowered to prosper in their own rights.”
“We however remain confident that we will find an amicable solution with Roofings and a way forward will be forged, whether by mutual consent or by instructions of law.”
“That notwithstanding, we remain committed to clearing the monies owed and are intent on resolving this matter expeditiously.”
He said the debtors’ book of ROKO is substantial and assured his clients that ‘this is a course of action that ROKO will never take to recover outstanding payments.’
GOVT OWES ROKO SHS46BN
According to details obtained by Red pepper, the Government owes Roko Construction Ltd more than Shs46bn.
This is acknowledged by the minister of finance, planning and economic development, Matia Kasaija in a comfort letter dated November 22, 2020 to the Roko Managing Director.
“I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence in which you brought to my attention the long outstanding payments amounting to Shs46,997,280,913.08 due to ROKO Construction Ltd and recognize the same as contributory to your current cash flow problems,” Kasaija said in the letter copied to State House and office of the prime minister. Kasaija further assured the company that the government through his ministry is verifying the debt with the relevant government agencies, and once complete the money would be paid promptly.