UNRA is Financially Indebted to Do New Road Projects this Year – Kagina

The Executive Director Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Allen Kagina has revealed that the roads entity lacks the required funds to enable it undertake new key projects during the 2016/17 financial year.

She says that UNRA is operating in a deficit of Ugsh 1.7 Tn due to limited budgetary allocation that doesn’t match with the increasing road development program.

While addressing an end of financial year news conference on Thursday, store Kagina said; “As a result of budgetary constraints, there are no new key projects to be financed by government this financial year. UNRA will instead focus on maintenance and completion of ongoing projects as well as concentrate on making designs and procurement for upcoming road projects.”

This year, UNRA will work on atleast 1,000km of ongoing projects and hopes to add 200km of paved roads to the current 4,157km of paved road network nationwide.

Of the Ugshs 82bn that was supposed to be allocated to UNRA from government on the recurrent budget, only Ugshs 53Bn was released. Similary on the entity’s Ughs 1.2 Tn development budget for road construction a sum of Ughs 58 Bn was not released leaving the entity with a total outstanding debt of Ugshs 259.3 Bn for unpaid invoices for 2015 works.

“Our budget from the Uganda Road Fund for road maintenance was also not fully provided. A sum of Ugsh 26.8Bn was not released,” said Kagina.

She partly attributed these financial inadequacies to government’s preparation for the 2016 February elections which exerted too much financial pressures.

Kagina said that the roads entity is going to prioritize value for money through better coordination and supervision of contractors to ensure that they deliver quality and durable roads.

“We intend to profile all the contractors with whom we have worked so we can do due diligence on them based on their previous work and whether it gave value for money,” she told journalists at the UNRA headquarters.

The ED revealed plans to engage road authorities from the East African region in a bid to compare performance and build capacity. The first of such engagements will be hosted in Kampala this month.

“Road construction is taking too long and Ugandans need services in time. We have put in place an in-house construction unit so that UNRA can start doing designs to increase local capacity,” the Executive Director explained.

“There are many small roads that we can’t wait for contractors to do. UNRA can do them at one third of the cost.”

In addition, UNRA plans to take more caution on environmental and social related issues while constructing roads so as to prevent the re-occurence of withdrawal of donor funding as was the case with World Bank in 2015. Kagina said; “A team from World Bank will visit the Albertine projects this July to re-appraise and assess UNRA’s compliance. We are confident that each complaint raised was responded to.”

Commenting on their performance for the previous financial year, the Executive Director said “it was medium and UNRA hasn’t reached the desirable level we want”.

Another obstacle to UNRA’s performance in the previous year according to Kagina was the long restructuring process which is still ongoing and leaves the entity’s human resource capacity short by 30 percent. The additional 400 staff will be fully instituted by 2018.

According to Kagina the delivery of quality roads is still limited by among other challenges; delayed land acquisition, inadequacies in designs, delayed procurement and poor performance of contractors.

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