Green Road Reserves: Kagina Unveils Countrywide Tree Planting Project

UNRA ED, Allen Kagina (L) and NFA's Juliet Mubi (R) planting trees at Namboole on Thursday

The lush greenery welcomes every visitor driving out of the airport in Singapore.

This was a result of the works of ‘chief gardener’ and the late founding Prime Minister, more about Mr Lee Kuan Yew, treatment whose vision for a ‘clean and green’ ‘ oasis in Southeast Asia’ transformed Singapore into a tropical garden city.

In his book titled “From Third world to First World: The Singapore Story:1965-2000”, on ‘Greening Singapore’, the success for such greening effort was achieved through active and continuous execution of plans with the setting up of a special unit within the Ministry of National Development – whose role was dedicated to the care for trees.

Header advertisement

Mr Lee said that “we planted millions of trees, palms and shrubs. Greening raised the morale of people and gave them pride in their surroundings. We taught them to care for and not vandalise the trees”.

It could be this vision that has inspired Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to embark on a massive greening effort of all national highways.

UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina today Thursday launched what has been termed as Green Right of Way (GROW) programme as part of the environmental restoration activities on all road reserves.

“The GROW programme will involve planting of trees along national road corridors where road works have been completed,” said Kagina.

The trees were preferred because of their absorption capacity of greenhouse gaseous emissions (GGE), control of soil erosion, provision of environmental/ecosystems services and beatification.

Coordinated by a multi-sectoral team drawn from the Directorates of Network Planning and Engineering, Public Corporate Affairs, Road Maintenance and Roads infrastructure protection, the programme is hugely expected to mitigate adverse environmental and social impacts.

The scheme came against the backdrop of a pilot study in August 2016 following site species matching to determine the best tree species that could do well in the area based on the prevailing climatic conditions, local species grown in the area and existing infrastructure along the road reserve.

To date, 11 kilometers of road reserve corridor have been planted with selected tree species at an average spacing of 10 meters between the trees.

The pilot is planned to be completed by mid 2018. Officials said despite being grossly affected by the prolonged dry spells, UNRA is committed to the success of the GROW Programme and will sustain interventions.

It’s understood these experiences and lessons learnt including costs incurred will be used to duplicate tree planting activities on all other upgraded roads.

Team Work

UNRA says it has engaged National Forestry Authority to guide the programme on the most suitable tree species to plant in varying climatic zones and other technical aspects regarding tree planting.

All seedlings for the pilot projects are being procured from NFA’s National Tree Centre in Namanve.

The move is seen as a big step forward in the conservation of the environment and beautification of roads.

Most roads especially in Kampala lack trees hence denying the public clean oxygen.

KCCA's Sanyu also plants a tree during the launch of the exercise

KCCA’s Sanyu also plants a tree during the launch of the exercise


Kagina said the tree planting exercise will equally create employment opportunities.

“Let’s not call them UNRA trees,” she observed, adding, “They are community trees.”

“We will have labour-based contracts to create jobs in tree management. The youth and women groups will be engaged to protect the trees,” she emphasised.

Aware that such exercises after demolishing structures in road reserves could see some people uprooting the trees, Kagina called for patience.

She said meetings have been held with local communities along the Gayaza-Zirobwe road to sensitise locals about the environmental and social importance of tree planting along the road reserves.

“Households with land adjacent to the road reserves are also given fruit tree seedlings to boost their nutrition and revenues,” said Kagina.

Local labour has also been sourced from within the community. This covers excavation of pits, planting, protection of tree seedlings and watering of the tree seedlings.

Some materials like pegs for protection of tree seedlings are procured locally within communities bordering the road reserve.

After assessing the effectiveness of the current stakeholder engagement approach, the same is expected to be replicated when the programme is rolled out countrywide.

On concerns that previous tree planting exercises did not bear fruit, Kagina expressed her determination to succeed in this endeavor.

“Let’s be judged by the health of the trees in 5 to 20 years from now. Our children deserve a better environment,” she assured the gathering at the Namboole roundabout.

She would later plant a tree as a sign of commitment to the protection of the environment.

Kagina hopes that one day Uganda road reserves will one day be marked by colorful bursts of tropical flowering shrubs and tall trees.


Header advertisement
To Top