The Minister of Works and Transport Gen Katumba Wamala has said 16 newly created districts out of the 147 districts will wait until July 2023 to receive their road maintenance equipment.
In July 2017, the Government procured 1,151 pieces of road construction equipment comprising motor graders, vibro rollers, wheel loaders, water bowser and dump trucks from Japan for and distributed to 118 districts. Several of the equipment have reportedly broken down and new new spare parts.
Early this week, concerned Members of Parliament expressed frustration on the floor saying they are facing hostile receptions from their constituents relating to breakdown of major road networks due to poor maintenance and devastating torrential rains across the country.
The new administrative units include districts with inaccessible rural road networks include; Kakumiro, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera, Bunyangabu, Bugweri, Nabilatuk, Kikuube, Kassanda, Karenga, Kapelebyong, Kazo, Kalaki, Terego, Obongi and Madi Okollo.
Joseph Komol Miidi, the Dodoth North Member of Parliament Kaabong complained that in 2011, the Government opened over 150km of security and commercial roads to link the district to the neighbouring Kenya and South Sudan borders and it has largely been impassable.
During the tenure of the 10th Parliament, Medard Ssegona Lubega, Member of Parliament Busiro County East Constituency cited an incident in which Stephen Baka Mugabi, the Bukooli County, North legislator was assaulted by his irate constituents over impassable roads.
Meanwhile, Sarah Achieng Opendi, the Tororo District Woman Representative, blamed the Ministry of Finance for suppressing the Uganda Roads Fund – URF which cripples the entity’s ability to finance routine and periodic maintenance of public roads.
Established by an Act of Parliament in 2008, the URF is mandated to raise monies through various means, independent of general government taxation regimes, and disburses those funds to repair and maintenance agencies, based on agreed work programmes.
In response Minister Katumba explained that the Works Ministry has been facing financial constraints but said a process of procuring road repair equipment has already commenced to rescue districts with impassable roads. He added that the road equipment being procured excludes the new cities and municipalities.
In Early September, the Government, through the URF ED, Andrew Naimanye announced a release of 68.5 billion Shillings to all districts countrywide for the maintenance of various public roads.
Naimanye directed agencies to implement road maintenance works on only those road schemes approved in the already signed performance agreements between URF and the district administrations amidst an outcry from districts that money was insufficient.
In 1962 at the time Uganda attained independence after 78 years of British rule, the country had 16 districts with only 600 networks of tarmacked roads. Currently, the Uganda National Roads Authority – UNRA has an overall 20,000km national roads to maintain out of which 6,000km are tarmacked leaving a deficit of 16,000km which the ruling National Resistance Movement – NRM Government is yet to accomplish.