Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The procurement of road tolling equipment for the Entebbe Expressway is ongoing, to pave the way for full-scale utilization of the facility. This is according to Edward Ssimbwa, the commissioner for Public Infrastructure at the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The four-lane toll highway road has been open to all motorable traffic at no cost for the past one year despite agreements that subject the road to tolling as a mechanism of earning money for repayment of a loan obtained from the Export and Import (EXIM) Bank of China.
The bank lent out USD 350 million (875 billion Shillings) to Uganda at an annual interest of two per cent per annum, to facilitate the construction of the road, which cost 1.2 trillion Shillings in total. But its use was delayed by the absence of toll-paying technology at the payment booths and the law authoring the building and use of toll roads
The bill was passed by parliament in April 2019 and assented to by the President in May this year, a development which, according to Ssimbwa, paves way for the procurement and installation of the technology, which they hope will be ready for use before the end of the year.
The Expressway has three toll stations in Busega – Kampala, Kajjansi and Mpala where people expected to use the road will pay a fee yet to be established before using the road.
While commissioning the expressway last year, President Museveni said the government will ensure that all people using the road pay a tolling fee so that the government ensures that it repays the loan acquired to construct the road.
However, Fred Muhumuza, a member of the Ministry of Works committee that negotiated the Entebbe expressway repayment mechanism says it is dangerous to ask for a fee from the road users as a way of repaying the loan.
“This means the road users will have to pay a higher price of using the road so as to pay the loan within the specified 13-year period, which is dangerous. Government’s major aim of constructing the expressway was to provide an alternative route for Entebbe – Kampala road users since it has for long been congested,” Muhumuza says.
Uganda National Roads Authority has since the commissioning of the Expressway undertaken activities of maintaining the road which includes slashing and cleaning sections of the highway.
UNRA media relations officer Allan Kyobe Ssempebwa is optimistic the tolling equipment will be instituted before the end of the year. He, however, did not disclose the amount of money used to purchase the road tolling equipment.