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Works Ministry conducting study on unit cost for roads

FILE PHOTO: UNRA road works

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | The Ministry of Works and Transport is conducting a study on the unit cost for the construction of roads in the country. The study follows concerns on the high cost of road construction currently estimated at 3.1 billion Shillings.

The Ministry of Works estimates show that constructing one kilometre of a road cost 510 million in 2000 and rose to 1.5 billion Shillings by 2007. However, the average cost was 2.9 billion Shillings by 2017. Similarly, the cost of upgrading a paved road with bitumen surface treatment increased from 2.3 billion Shillings in 2017/2018 to 3.1 billion Shillings in 2018/2019.

One of the roads that have been queried includes the four-lane highway Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, which was cost up to USD 9.3 million per kilometre. The 51-kilometre road, whose total cost is calculated at 1.7 trillion Shillings, has been highlighted as the costliest road project among low to middle-income countries.

The Expressway has 19 fly-overs and bridges with a total length of 2,770 meters. One of its key features is the Nambigirwa Bridge, the longest four-lane bridge in East Africa with over 1,400 meters.

According to UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina, the unit cost of a road is determined by structural layers, which include, among others, location, surface, terrain, number of lanes, the purpose of the road and structure.

The Acting Commissioner for Policy and Planning at the ministry, Peter Kabanda says that the ministry is conducting a study to help the government to establish the unit cost of constructing roads in consideration of various factors. The study entails the establishment of unit rates, quantity estimation, regional comparison and development of software-based cost estimation and a monitoring system.

Kabanda says that the ministry contracted M/S LEA Associates South Asia Pvt Ltd in association with Denmar Consulting Ltd, Uganda and KOM Consult Ltd, to undertake the consultancy services for a task that is expected to be completed by May this year.

Kabanda added that Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA will prepare a comprehensive assessment which will be submitted to Parliament.  Kabanda says that though ministry usually has an estimate for each road project, the cost is determined by the best-evaluated bidder.

MP Robert Kasolo says that the absence of set average unit costs has resulted in inflated road project costs and loss of public funds.

The Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2018/2019 shows that UNRA completed 74 projects at a total of 2.4 trillion Shillings. 13 of these projects were audited and some of the findings include inadequate designs and planning, underestimation of quantities, and overpayment on excess quantities.

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