Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) needs an additional sh400 billion to adequately fund road maintenance and network operations.
The current budget of sh246.9 billion is inadequate to fund all the necessary activities to keep the network in good condition and fully functional, UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina has said.
In addition to this handicap, UNRA is saddled with sh259.3 billion in unpaid invoices for works completed within the 2015-16 financial year. While the Government road development programme has been growing, Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) ceiling for UNRA vote has been the same.
This, Kagina told the press in her end of financial year statement in Kampala, has now resulted in the ongoing and planned road programmes having a deficit of sh 1.7 trillion.
UNRA Executive Director Kagina on Thursday painted a gloomy financial picture of the 8-year-old road authority, throwing the bombshell by explaining why there will be no new Government funded road projects in the incoming financial year 2016-17. “Focus will be on maintenance and completion of projects,” Kagina said.
“Due to the budget constraints, there are therefore no new key projects to be financed by Government of Uganda commencing in the coming Financial Year (2016-17). All effort will be concentrated on ensuring that government gets value for money from the investment in the ongoing projects through improved management and supervision of projects while engagement with the development partners to support the programme continues,” Kagina said.
“This ending financial year 2015/16, we received 65% of the development and 90% of the road maintenance budget that was allocated to the UNRA vote while the balance was not released by MFPED and Uganda Road Fund respectively,” Kagina said.
She revealed that with the staff restructuring that she has overseen, UNRA has built capacity, and is now undertaking in-house Construction and Supervision of road projects as one measure to help them live up to expectations despite budget constraints.
“All funds which were released were utilised, yet with a debt sh259.3 billion in unpaid invoices for works completed within the year. UNRA will pay for these outstanding invoices using next year’s budget, hence reducing the funds available for the 2016/17 programme by the same amount.”
One key development partner the World Bank, changed its commitment to financing two road projects. “Due to the project implementation challenges” on the upgrading of Kamwenge-Fort Portal Road, World Bank cancelled the credit which was financing the road project and suspended financing for the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (Kyenjojo-Kabwoya) and NERAMP (OPRC on Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Kamdini).
“We have made significant progress in improving contract and social safeguards management and hope that the World Bank will be able to lift the suspension for the two projects financing Kyenjojo-Kabwoya and the OPRC on Tororo-Kamdini roads in July 2016,” Kagina said.
Kagina said UNRA has upgraded approximately 238km of road from unpaved to paved bituminous standard, bringing the total paved road network to 4,157km (20%) out of the 20,544km, while the rehabilitation of 252km of the paved roads has been completed.
“Management is committed to building in-house capacity and seeing that all our initiatives succeed in introducing efficiency and effectiveness of our business next financial year 2016-17 onwards. Our long term desire is to provide a great road network that will provide great driver experience and one that will take Uganda to higher economic development levels.”
She said performance of URA should also improve, as they have been operating with a third of expected staff following restructuring after she took over.
UNRA’s external advertisement of 111 positions in January 2016 attracted 45,000 applications .
Kagina revealed that all senior management positions have been filled with substantial recruitment of the middle management staff.
“We now have a total of 892 members of staff recruited as of today, with 30% of these expected to start working in July/August 2016.We hope to recruit an additional 400 members of staff in the financial year 2016/17 and to fill the remaining positions in 2018.”
READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW