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UNRA urges MPs to speed up loan approval for Hoima oil road

Members of Parliament on the Infrastructure Committee during a field visit on the critical oil roads under upgrade.

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | Members of Parliament have been urged by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to fast-track the approval of a new loan meant to complete the Hohwa-Nyairongo-Kyarushesha road and its other sections that in total add up to 93km in the oil region.

UNRA executive director Allen Kagina urged MPs on the Parliamentary Infrastructure Committee who along with UNRA officials inspected a number of oil roads from Sept.15-17.

“The loan had been cleared but the first financier pulled out,” Kagina told MPs and journalists.

Kagina said the loan approval process had to go back to the drawing board after the first financier, Industrial and Construction Bank of China pulled out. The MPs led by Kigorobya County MP David Karubanga, the committee chairman, vowed to take on the issue when they get back to the House.

The project was contracted to China Railway Seventh Group in March 2019 but the external financing hiccups means that the completion of the road may delay beyond the expected completion date of August 2022.

The other components of the works is the Kabale-Kiziramfumbi Road which connects to Kabaale International Airport under construction, and Masindi-Biiso, which completes the lot.

Land acquisition headache

MPs also learnt about other challenges hindering the construction of the critical oil roads – land acquisition and compensation battles with residents. One section of the road where UNRA plans to carry out expansion works has resulted into a court battle.

William Ndahura, a businessman who claims he had planted 2000 mango trees, took the roads body to court seeking compensation. Juiette Oyella, UNRA Acting Head of Land Acquisition said UNRA’s count was 324 trees.

Ndahura’s claim means UNRA would have to pay out Shs800million going by the district compensation rate of Shs400,000.

Kagina told the MPs about the enormity of the legal challenges they face. “Last year, we had 121 cases and 101 of those were about land acquisition.”

On the Buhimba-Nalweyo-Bulamagi-Kakumiro road, a school owner is demanding for 600m as compensation for a portion of the school. He says the 160m assessed by UNRA is an undervaluation.

MPs also inspected work on the upgrading of the 111km Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko Road gravel to paved standards. This one is at 90% completion rate and is expected to be completed in January next year.

The Resident Engineer, Ronald Olaki said plans were underway to manage the rising water levels as a result of the current rains. The project is jointly funded by government of Uganda and the Exim Bank of China.

The other road is the upgrading of the Masindi Kisanja Park Junction and Tangii Junction Paraa Buliisa project which glides through the Murchison Falls National Park.

This lot includes the new Paraa bridge, which was designed to reduce on time wasted on the River Nile crossing. Its revised completion date is November 2021.

UNRA is also planning to construct a new gate for the park.

The third one was the upgrading of the 107km Mubende Kakumiro-Kagadi road.

Most of the MPs concerns were around creating access routes for pedestrians, empowering local contractors and urging contractors to speed up construction works.

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