Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | When President Yoweri Museveni visited the home of slain Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga on June 09, he was surprised at the poor state of the road.
He blamed it for hindering Abiriga’s escape when assassinates attacked and shot him dead on the evening of June 08.
Abiriga, who was a staunch Museveni loyalist, was returning home in his famous yellow new model VW beetle with his brother cum bodyguard when they were killed in a hail of assassin bullets. The assassins got away because they were riding on motorcycles.
Abiriga was reportedly driving slowly because of the bad state of the roadin KirinyabigoKawanda, Nansana Municipality Wakiso district, approximately 14Kms north of Kampala city.
The president wondered why the road had not been fixedyet the districts have budgets and road fixing equipment.
Kawanda is also the location of Kawanda National Agricultural Research Laboratory (NARL), one of the top agriculture facilities in the country and a unit of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
Three days after Museveni’s criticism, Nabweru Municipality has acted and leveled the 2km road.
The prompt action of the municipality officials has shocked and excited residents and their local leaders.
Wilson Ssesanga, the chairperson LCI of Kaayi Village says they had made several requests to the municipality and division to have the road fixed but their requests fell on deaf ears.
He says that they were promised that the earliest it could be worked on was in mid-next financial year, 2019, after securing the funds.
“We suspect that if the president had not travelled via the same road, our requests wouldn’t have been granted by now,” said Ssesanga.
Ssesanga says their roads have previously been worked on as additions during the paving and grading of the bigger Kawanda-Kayunga-Wakiso road which is near part of the Kaayi-Kirinyabigo road.
Now the municipality has also promised to install culverts and drainage channels along the road to improve the drainage system, Ssesanga said.
But the chairperson LC3 of Nabweru Division, Robert Maserukainsists they are not working because President Museveni complainedon the poor state of such roads.He insists that fixing the road and other feeder roads was planned and budgeted for by the district.
“Work in the district is not guided by misfortunes but by workplans,”said Maseruka, “so it was within the municipality to work on the road.”
According to the budget estimates released to all districts by the Uganda Road Fund, in the 2018/19 financial year, Wakiso district is expected to get Shs15 billion for road maintenance projects, an amount almost two times more than what it received the previous year.
This, according to Wakiso District chairperson Matia LwangaBwanika,remains too low to enable the district to fully use the new road equipment.
“This makes it impossible to offer support to town councils and sub-counties to fix bad roads,” saysBwanika. The district local leadership had sought for up to Shs50 billion to revamp the poor road network.
Bwanika says it is unfortunate that roads can only be fixed when the president complains yet maintenance should be a routine as per the budget and work plan on specific roads.