By Sam Stewart Mutabazi
In October last year, sildenafil http://ca-uqam.info/wp-includes/post.php five months after being appointed Executive Director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), doctor Ms Allen Kagina was quick to announce that the roads agency would be paving 1000 Km every year.
Under the previous management, UNRA had been paving only 150Km annually. Of course we knew then as we do now that Allen was only promising hot air because to achieve this target, UNRA would require a budget of 1 Billion dollars every year assuming than each kilometer would cost no more than one million dollars.
This excludes administration costs, consultancy and other contingencies. More so, given the fact that the average unit cost of roads in Uganda has been hovering above 1 million dollars for most road projects, Kagina would possibly need much more than the 1 billion dollars.
UNRA has 21,000Km of national roads under its care out of 85Km of the entire road network in Uganda. Only 4000Km (4 percent) of roads (mostly managed by UNRA) are paved.
While presenting the 2017/18 national budget, the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaijja dropped a bombshell. Government was did not budget for new projects this financial year. There was no money for new roads.
UNRA which was to receive approximately 2.5 Trillion would utilize its budget mainly on ongoing projects and partly on maintaining existing roads.
Although UNRA had of course got this information through Budgets Framework Paper and the Ministerial Budget Statement (MBS) they could not come clean to inform the expectant public.
In the scheme of things currently, UNRA may actually not be able to achieve the target of the old management of paving 150Km this financial year!
One month after commencement of the financial year, UNRA had to swallow the bitter pill by rescinding their old promise.
They announced that they would after all not be embarking on any new projects. They however fell short of telling the public their target in terms of number of Kilometers they would pave this year.
In a developing country like Uganda with only 4 percent coverage of paved roads, missing a whole year without bringing on board any new projects is nothing but retardation if not retrogressive development.
Many Ugandans were hopeful that their roads would be worked on this financial year. One of the critical roads that have been in waiting for over seven years is Rukungiri-Kanungu road. Residents of Kanungu cannot come to terms with UNRA pronouncement that their road is not going to be worked on in the near future.
This may be too much for them to bear. Kanungu is a very hard-to-reach district because of poor accessibility.
Definitely Kanungu is not the only area or region which feels that government should prioritize upgrading of their roads. For selfish reasons everyone would want their road to be prioritized.
UNRA must learn to manage people’s expectations. Road projects must be sequenced in a fair manner in accordance with a predetermined plan. We are not blaming UNRA for nothing else because we are aware that they are limited by the budget.
They however need to be cautious next time when they try to raise public expectations. UNRA is more fixated about Public relations than actual delivery. Roads don’t need PR. They speak for themselves.
Soon the public will look for roads and will realize that there has been too much talking and less work.
The author is the Executive Director of Uganda Road Sector Support Initiative (URSSI)