Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has tasked authorities at Uganda National Roads Authority to explained the delays in the completion of Mpigi-Busega Expressway.
Mr Thomas Tayebwa who yesterday led a team of legislators from Physical Infrastructure and National Economy committees on a fact-finding mission, inspected on-going construction works at Katonga Bridge and Mpigi – Busega Expressway road, project which he said is only 30%.
“Myself and the current chairman of the National Economy (Hon.John Bosco Ikojo), strongly participated in the approval of the money for 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” Mr 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 18th 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 Shs547.5billion.
However, addressing journalists during a guided tour, the deputy speaker noted that delay to complete 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 in 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, 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,” Mr 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 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 ED Allen Kagina told Deputy Speaker and members that the delays to complete the expressway was occasioned by a cocktail of geological and technical issues.
“The original alignment was going to affect the rail road. 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
Earlier, the Deputy Speaker inspected on-going works at Katonga bridge that is under re-construction 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 capital city and other neighboring countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
UNRA director of Roads and Bridges, Eng.
Samuel Muhoozi told the deputy speaker and members that the steel structure will 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.