Road sector sparkles as UNRA gets to work.
By the year 1970, Uganda was famed for having the best road network in East and Central Africa. This was largely because of the fact that Uganda had a favourable terrain which allowed road construction in many parts of the country compared to Kenya and Tanzania.
Currently, Uganda has about 45000 kilometers (28000 mi.) of roads, of which 10000 (6213 miles) kilometers are main roads and 35000 kilometers (21747 miles) are feeder roads. However, the management of the National Road network had been unsatisfactory which prompted government to operationalise the Uganda National Roads Authority(UNRA) in 2008.
Even though the act to establish it had been passed earlier in 2006, the operationalisation of UNRA on July 1st 2008 came as a blessing to the road sector. UNRA was granted a mandate to construct and maintain 20,000kms of roads in the country.
Less than two years since it began operations, UNRA has no doubt already made its ample mark on the road sector. A case in point is the Kampala-Gayaza-Zirobwe road which is currently under construction.
Information from UNRA shows that the Kampala-Gayaza section is being upgraded and widened to 11m including shoulders while the Gayaza-Zirobwe section is being upgraded from marrum to tarmac standard.
There are plans to turn the section from Kampala (Kubiri roundabout) to Kalerwe (Kampala Northern Bypass roundabout) into a dual carriageway (four lanes). As off November 2010, the physical progress stands at over 70% and the road is due for completion at the end of this same year.
On completion, Kampala-Gayaza-Zirobwe will be 44Km long of tarmac road with shoulders along its entire length. Although the new road generally follows the old road, there is some realignment at Bulami and Janda areas to meet the improved standard requirements.
A new roundabout is being constructed at the junction of Gayaza- Zirobwe and Gayaza-Kalagi road to ensure the smooth flow of traffic as the greater Gayaza area experiences increased residential developments.
As is UNRA’s policy to ensure environemental sustainability, the Authority is working with the contractor, Energoprojekt Niskograndja to reduce on the environmental effects of the works, especially the dust on the Kampala-Gayaza urban section.
This is a busy road with live traffic during construction but everything possible is being done to reduce on the dust. Since UNRA enjoys a good working relationship with Uganda National Environmental Management Authority, the former is confident that all stake-holders in this project are satisfied with the progress in the construction works.
Already, the assessment and valuation of property affected by the project is being carried out by M/s East African Consulting Surveyors and Valuers, a private firm of valuation surveyors.
Property compensation on the Gayaza-Zirobwe section is almost complete and has started on the Kampala-Gayaza section. UNRA is the process of reclaiming the national road reserve on the Kampala-Gayaza section. Garage owners, roadside markets and businesses that have encroached on the national road reserve are advised to relocate as soon as possible.
Encroachment on road reserves has been one of UNRA’s biggest challenges but efforts are underway to legally address all issues arising from the same.
Swaib Kagwa, who resides along the same road is all praises for the project. “Its not often that I see road works as qualified as these in this country,” he says adding that if UNRA continues with the standards its setting on the road then the country is set to achieve a lot in the road sector.
Swaib however notes that there is need for government to address land speculators who take advantage of poor residents when they get wind of plans for construction of roads. He says many unsuspecting residents fall prey of crooks who buy them out cheaply before demanding compensation.
Although UNRA admits that the road sector has had an image problem in the last few years, officials at the Authority believe that the establishment of UNRA gives the country an opportunity to make a fresh start with a new mandate.
“Our corporate image will be founded on trust generated from our interaction with the public and most importantly by delivering on our promises,” declares Engineer Peter Ssebanakita, the UNRA Executive Director.