Uganda: Deputy Speaker Questions Delayed Mpigi – Busega Expressway Project

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has tasked authorities at the Uganda National Roads Authority to explain the delays in the completion of the Mpigi-Busega Expressway.

Thomas Tayebwa who yesterday led a team of legislators from Physical Infrastructure and National Economy committees on a fact-finding mission, inspected ongoing construction works at Katonga Bridge and Mpigi – Busega Expressway road, a project which he said is only 30%.

“I and the current chairman of the National Economy (Hon.John Bosco Ikojo), strongly participated in the approval of the money for the Mpigi – Busega Expressway project. That was around June 2016 and we expected it to be done in three years. In 2021 it should have been commissioned. We are now in 2023 and we are seeing the progress is extremely very slow” Tayebwa said.

According to official records, the 35km- project co-funded with support from the African Development Fund (ADF) and African Development Bank (ADB) was on 18 June 2019.

The 35km was contracted to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in Joint Venture with China Railway 19th Bureau Group (U) Ltd at a contract sum of Shs547.5 billion.

However, addressing journalists during a guided tour, the deputy speaker noted that delay in completing this critical road and unexplained deviation from the original plan is posing traffic challenges.

The Deputy Speaker made the remarks in Buloba, Kyengera. He was flanked by UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina.

“We have seen no progress has been made on the side of Kibuye-Busega and the way they had designed it at that time was that Kibuye-Busega would be the one interlinking with Kampala Entebbe Expressway and Northern Bypass,” he said, adding that “if you haven’t made any progress on Kibuye-Busega, then you must find a way to make this road meaningful to serve the purpose for which we were told.”

If the main goal fails, Tayebwa warned UNRA that this project will be another effort in vain.

“We were told in 2016 that it is going to reduce the time from Busega to Mpigi to only 18 minutes. Now you cannot determine the time you are going to take on that road. You can take six hours or one hour. I have ever taken around six hours on that road. When it is like a Sunday or weekend and you are coming back, you never know or when it is school visitation days,” Tayebwa added.

Mr Dan Kimosho, the Chairperson of the Physical Infrastructure Committee noted that “It is imperative that the contractors find nearby sources of raw materials to expedite the process.”

“There is an explanation to it especially because it is going through swamps and takes a lot of time and they get road materials from Kakiri to work on some of these swamps and they are arguing that it affects their speed. But they are saying within 48 months from now, the road will be complete and functional,” Kimosho explained.

As a result of the delayed completion of the project, Mawokota North MP Hillary Kiyaga (NUP) told journalists that locals living along the route are constantly exposed to flooding whenever it rains.

“The delay is affecting our people, for example, the drainage system. Whenever they are working there has to be a drainage system but it is not yet implemented. So the more they delay, the more effects to the general public and people,” Kiyaga stated.

UNRA explains

UNRA ED Allen Kagina told the Deputy Speaker and members that the delays in completing the expressway were occasioned by a cocktail of geological and technical issues.

“The original alignment was going to affect the railroad. You know the Kampala-Kasese road also passes here and also Ugandans had built a lot on the dry ground so passing an expressway in these areas was going to affect the settlements. So we shifted onto the edge of the swamp,” Kagina explained

Katonga bridge

Earlier, the Deputy Speaker inspected ongoing works at Katonga Bridge which is under reconstruction and was impressed by the progress made so far.

The essence of this crossing is to divert traffic from the old condemned bridge which was in May this year washed away by floods before it was reopened to light traffic in September.

The crossing at River Katonga acts as a gateway for cargo trucks and passenger vehicles heading to the capital city and other neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

UNRA director of Roads and Bridges, Eng. Samuel Muhoozi told the deputy speaker and members that the steel structure would be complete by Christmas this year.

Efforts are in high gear, to have a standard bridge erected by the Contractor (China Communications Construction Company Ltd).

“We are calling it a temporary bridge because it is not going to stay there for good. As you have seen we are just doing guard rails and even vehicles can pass but we don’t allow that due to safety measures in place. So within two or three weeks’ time we shall open this road. …the contractor going to do the new bridge is the one doing all this,” Muhoozi explained.

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