The Executive Director Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Allen Kagina worries that perennial outstanding debts could affect development and maintenance of road network this financial year.
At close of the 2016/17 financial year, UNRA had a sum of Shs243.5 billion in outstanding debts in its development budget and Shs50.8 billion for road maintenance.
By close of last financial year, 14% of the road development budget and 19% of the maintenance budget had not been disbursed by government to UNRA.
In the 2017/18 budget, the Roads Authority was allocated Shs3.89 trillion. Despite the Shs1.2 trillion increment from the previous year’s allocation, UNRA will have to deduct the Shs243 billion debt meaning that some of the planned works will fall short of financing.
“The pressure for paved roads as well as maintenance of unpaved roads is very high and yet the money is not matching the demand,” said Kagina during a press briefing on Tuesday reviewing the concluded financial year.
She said that as a result of the outstanding obligations and the current commitments on ongoing projects, the required budget estimate versus the appropriation has a budget shortfall of approximately Shs980 billion for both new roads and maintenance.
“This shortfall exposes government programs to possible poor quality due to inadequate supervision and possible loss of funds through claims and inability to derive full value for money from investment,” the Executive Director further said.
Currently, over 2,000km of roads are on the unfunded priority list.
Kagina said that inadequate funding for road maintenance continues to pile pressure on UNRA’s operational costs in supervision and downgrade the level of service on the roads.
“The unreleased budget affects our ability to meet our obligations to pay service providers as well as inability to complete our work plans for better development and maintenance perennially.”
Following the suspension of World Bank funding on the Fort Portal – Kamwenge road project in 2016, government had to scale down on government funded road development commitments to enable the completion of the same road.
This year, UNRA hopes to substantially complete seven roads and add 264km to the existing 4,257km of road network nationwide.
Among the projects to be completed in 2017/18 include: Mbarara Bypass (41.66kms), Kampala-Entebbe Expressway (49.56kms), Rushere – Nshwerenkye (11.1kms), Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi/Nyenga (74kms) and Gulu-Acholibur (87.4kms).
Last year, only two roads were upgraded to paved bituminous standard. These are Fort Portal – Kamwenge and Ntungamo – Mirama Hills both of which added 0.7% to the paved road network.