Money is part of Shs 1.2tn loan from AfDB
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | On May 11, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government of Uganda signed two financing agreements worth US$ 348 million (about Shs 1.2 trillion) to rehabilitate and improve road infrastructure within Kampala City and the tourism circuit of Kabale-Kisoro-Mgahinga in southwestern Uganda.
Matia Kasaija, the outgoing Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development signed on behalf of Uganda while Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, the country manager for AfDB signed on behalf of the Bank. Kasaija described the projects as “transformative” and in line with the government’s national development plan as well as the African Development Bank’s “High 5 strategic priorities.”
The biggest beneficiary of the AfDB loan is the Kampala Capital City Authority which is taking three-quarters of the funds (about Shs 985bn) to rehabilitate dozens of roads under the Kampala City Roads Rehabilitation Project.
Kampala City which serves both as Uganda’s administrative and commercial capital is plagued by significant infrastructure challenges and most of its roads are currently in poor state following prolonged rains.
Although the city has a road network of 2110 km, only 30% is paved. As a result of the poor road infrastructure, residents complain of traffic jams which make access to work places, commercial and social services difficult.
The release of the funds comes after almost a year since the outgoing Cabinet approved a proposal to borrow US$ 219.40 million from the AfDB to finance the rehabilitation of roads in Kampala City.
According to a project proposal brief prepared by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development which was presented to the 10th Parliament in April, last year, the project is expected to ease congestion in Kampala and will see the improvement of 67 km of roads, 134 km of non-motorized traffic facilities, and the provision of street lighting and scheduled eco-bus services, including bus depots and dedicated lanes. It will also upgrade 22 road junctions and enhance the drainage capacity of the city to mitigate flooding on the streets.
The rehabilitation and paving of city roads will bring social and environmental benefits to city residents, road users and businesses by reducing the cost of transport from wear and tear of vehicles and a reduction of congestion that will reduce the time spent in traffic, improved parking areas for trucks, taxis and other road users.
The finance ministry officials told Parliament that the average city dweller loses over an hour of their productive time in traffic jam each day. “This problem is not only affecting average city dwellers but equally businesses as well as making the city and the country at large, unattractive to investors.”
They say traffic fatalities in Kampala have been on the rise due to the high motorization levels and general bad condition of the road infrastructure. Kampala city alone accounts for up to 50% of the total number of accidents and 22% of all fatal crashes in the country. The officials further noted that public transport provision remains sub-optimal, provided in an unregulated environment with heightened competition with boda boda.
The Kampala City Roads Rehabilitation Project is part of a city wide infrastructural improvement initiative intended to rehabilitate and upgrade a total of over 60km of roads within the city, signalization of 22 junctions; 134 km of pedestrian walkways; construction of 5km of drainage channels including Kiwunya along the Northern Bypass to prevent disruptive flooding and installation of 1,600 street lights.
The project is particularly targeting the reduction in average travel time within the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area from 4.1 minutes per kilometre to 3.5 minutes per kilometre through among others; significant investment in rehabilitation and maintenance of existing transport infrastructure as well as consolidation of additional investment in development of new infrastructure.
Among other auxiliary amenities coming with the project are complementary social initiatives, notably entrepreneurship training for at least 200 women and youth, and the construction of roadside markets and at least 30 public toilets in Kampala.
Meanwhile, the government has also secured US$71.8 million (Shs 256bn) to build the Kabale-Lake Bunyonyi/Kisoro-Mgahinga road project to improve transport connectivity in south-western Uganda. It will seamlessly connect roads with inland water transport on Lake Bunyonyi, allowing local communities to safely access social and economic activities, notably tourism. The project will also improve agricultural supply chain efficiency in the districts of Kabale, Rubanda, and Kisoro.
The project includes the construction of four landing sites on Lake Bunyonyi, at least 1,000 streetlights at all the trading centres through which the road passes, two ferries, as well as search and rescue boats kitted with navigational aids.
The project comes with other complementary social interventions such as roadside markets, schools, a hospital, administrative centres, and sanitary facilities to support women and youth vendors. It will also finance power supply in Bwama Island on Lake Bunyonyi to some 10,000 residents and include planting trees to increase forest cover in the area.
“The African Development Bank will continue to support the government and people of Uganda to achieve the country’s development objectives,” Ngafuan said.
“The Bank is currently working with the government and other stakeholders to develop a new five-year country strategy paper that will continue to prioritize transformative interventions, especially in the transport sector.”