Legislators have expressed concern in regard to the poor state of roads across the country, despite a huge chunk of budget allocated to the Works and Transport sector annually.
This was during a debate on the statement by the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala regarding the status of roads in the country.
The statement noted that over the period from financial year 2014/2015 to 2019/2020, government allocated 16.8 trillion Shillings to the development and maintenance of the national roads and that a number of the projects are still ongoing.
“During this period, the government prioritized the upgrading of roads critical to supporting the development of the oil and gas sector, reads part of the statement.
Government also says that the last five years have seen increased rainfall and flooding which damages the road infrastructure in place and that with predictions that the global climate is set to change further, the roads built today must have to withstand severe weather conditions.
Now during the debate on the statement, several MPs raised concern over government’s delays to work on different roads despite several pledges by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Goretti Namugga, the Mawogola South MP said that government should pay more attention to maintenance of road equipment and buy good quality equipment for the districts.
Curthbert Abigaba Mirembe, the Kibale County MP also raised concern over the low budget for road equipment maintenance sent to districts that contributes to the continued poor road network in the country.
James Baba, the Koboko County MP urged the Ministry of Works and Transport to continuously assess the Chinese construction companies for their performance to ensure that Ugandans get value for money.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP said that it was incorrect to say that the Jinja-Bugiri-Busia road is completely paved. “Take another tour of this road and make an assessment. This is a road which carries heavy traffic so it needs to be worked on better,” he said.
Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP also said that maintenance of the roads is key especially with the maintenance of road equipment.
Yusuf Nsibambi, the Shadow Minister of Works and Transport said that the statement on the status of roads presented by government is not entirely true since the performance rate of many of them is still really low.
He suggested that the Minister’s statement on the status of roads in the country is referred to an Adhoc committee or the Parliament’s Physical Infrastructure committee to assess the issue of roads that has not been properly managed over the years. He noted that roads are not gifts to Ugandans but they are entitled to good roads.
Minister Katumba Wamala acknowledged that the issues raised by the MPs are genuine and he assured the House that his ministry would do everything possible in line with the National Development Plan-NDP III to implement road works in the country.
He also assured MPs that a Cabinet Paper on giving more business to local contractors is in the offing, and that road contracts below 45 billion Shillings are now ring-fenced for local firms.
Speaker Jacob Oulanyah recommended that the committee on Physical Infrastructure has a comprehensive engagement with the Ministry of Works and Transport in relation to the Funds and come up with a report that will shape the debate.
He also guided MPs with specific challenges on roads in their constituencies to formally write to the Minister of Works and Transport so that the issues can be assessed and handled.