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Uganda: Completion of road projects hang in balance over funds, Minister tells MPs

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Uganda: Completion of road projects hang in balance over funds, Minister tells MPs

In the 2021/2022 budget, UNRA was allocated 3.1 billion shs, which, according to Katumba Wamala, was not enough to allow the highway authority to meet its stated targets.

KAMPALA, Uganda, January 14, 2022/APO Group/ —

The Minister of Works and Transport, General Edward Katumba Wamala, has told members of Parliament that unless the ministry’s budget shortfalls are addressed, projects in the works sub-sector of the National Development Plan (NDP) III will not be implemented. on time. .

“It will be difficult to start new projects before completing the ones that have been started,” he said.

Katumba Wamala appeared before the Physical Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, January 13, 2022, to respond to questions raised in the Budget Framework Document (BFP) for fiscal year 2022/2023.

He said that most of the projects in execution are being carried out behind schedule, and said that some projects have suffered significant budget cuts.

“We are not paying the contractors. If we continue like this, it will be difficult to meet our objectives,” he said.

The minister informed lawmakers that the government is losing approximately 123 million shhs a week in interest payments on loans.

“There are some contracts that we committed to with the Uganda National Highways Authority and even scheduled some because they promised us money but we haven’t seen the money. If this is how we are going to proceed, not even this BFP or any plan we have will help,” the minister said.

In the 2021/2022 budget, UNRA was allocated 3.1 billion shs, which Katumba Wamala said was not enough to allow the highway authority to meet its stated targets.

“UNRA undertakes big projects and I need us to understand this so we know where we are going,” he said.

He said that while the Minister of State for Finance, Amos Lugoolobi, recently blamed budget shortfalls on the COVID-19 pandemic that affected the economy for almost two years, Parliament should prioritize the road sector.

“We are happy that the economy is fully reopened and we hope that this will lead to the recovery of the economy,” said Katumba Wamala.

Hon Nathan Byanyima (NRM, Bukanga North) advised the ministry to prioritize the construction and maintenance of roads that have a direct impact on traffic jams in Kampala city.

“Parliamentarians must appropriately allocate funds to tackle the recurring problem of traffic jams. It is disastrous to continue to have many highways that have the potential to decongest the city,” he said.

Byanyima added that the ministry should conclusively address the problem of motorcyclists in the city and said that they are contributing to the traffic jam, to which the minister replied that the ministry is working with the Kampala Capital City Authority to reorganize cycling operations. .

Hon Sarah Opendi (NRM, Tororo District) blamed the poor state of the roads on the delay in formulating regulations for the implementation of the Uganda Roads Fund Act to ensure the implementation of the Act.

“Some of the challenges we face is that the Ministry of Finance has not fulfilled its work as established by the Road Fund. The fund was created to guarantee the regular maintenance of the roads,” he said.

Opendi added that the delay in maintenance contributes to the poor state of roads throughout the country.

“People are dying not only from reckless drivers but also from bad roads. The issue of the Road Fund must be addressed by this committee,” he said.

Hon Elijah Okupa (Ind. Kasilo County) wondered why the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation continually cites budget shortfalls as the biggest challenge, yet most projects are donor-funded.

“What does the ministry do with all the donor funds?” he asked.

It also asked the minister to clarify the category of motorists exempt from paying the toll on the Kampala-Entebbe expressway, after the government started collecting the toll on January 8, 2022.

“There is a video that has gone viral showing officers at the toll gates in a fight with police officers in a patrol car. Should security personnel collect tolls on highways? he asked.

In response, the minister clarified that the law is clear about the category of those exempt from paying highway tolls, and security guards on duty fall into that category.

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