Understanding the NRM government’s heavy investment in transport infrastructure

Unobstructed access to raw materials, market, capital, labor, and human resource is a mark of a vigorous economy. Ease of movement of individuals and their goods is an index of the business readiness of a country. The economy grows at the speed of daylight where people and products move freely, quickly and safely with ease.

In today’s internationally interconnected economy, organized transportation systems are highways to economic prosperity, and this has informed the NRM government’s resource allocation priorities for the last three decades. A pro-growth economic environment cannot be created without the necessary physical infrastructure that aids mobility of people, products and information.

As the government of Uganda critically considers its journey to the middle-income status target by 2040, a sizeable share of commitments are being directed to infrastructural development with a focus on reducing travel times between regions, integrating the national market and connecting it to other markets in the East African Community.

The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) aims to develop and maintain a national roads network that is responsive to the economic development needs of Uganda in an environmentally sustainable manner while ensuring road user safety. To do this, UNRA undertakes implementation of two programmes; the National Roads Construction (NRC) and the National Roads Maintenance (NRM) programme. The former is for development/upgrading of new roads while the latter keeps the national roads in a functional state.

UNRA is currently upgrading 25 road projects (new construction and upgrading from paved bituminous standards) covering a total length of 1,701.8 Km. At the beginning of the year 2020, these were at various stages of construction or physical progress. The incremental % increase in physical progress for all the projects was assessed to be equivalent to 310km as the total construction output within the Financial Year.

In the financial year 2019/20, rehabilitation of 303 Km of the national roads continued, on six (6) road projects that include Nakalama – Tirinyi –Mbale ,Fort Portal – Kyenjojo, Hima-Katunguru, Ishaka- Katunguru, Fort Portal – Hima and Nakawa-Seeta.

At the end of the 19/20 FY, four (4) out of the six were completed totaling to 146 Km. Therefore, in the financial 2019/20, 167.1 Km was achieved out of the targeted 200 Km-Equiv which shows better progress.

The overall list of upgraded roads include; Bulima- Kabwoya ,Olwiyo – Gulu, Mbarara Bypass Lot 1 , Kampala Northern Bypass -Phase 2 ,Mpigi-Kanoni , Kyenjojo- Kabwoya , Mubende-Kakumiro-Kagadi Bumbobi – Lwakhakha , Musita-Lumino / Busia-Majanji , Soroti- Katakwi-Akisim , Akisim – Moroto ,Kigumba – Bulima , Tirinyi –Pallisa-Kumi , Pallisa-Kamonkoli , Masindi Park Junction and Tangi Junction-Para Bulisa, plus Hoima-Butiaba Wanseko Road. By the end of June 2020, UNRA had completed upgrading 60.17Km of town roads and rehabilitated 53.26 Km of town roads.

Government has also prioritized construction of standard quality bridges that can be accessed by vehicles of all weights, which has eased connecting places to others. In the last five years, government has completed construction of 41 new bridges. 33 are under procurement and an additional 60 bridges are under design for construction. Also constructed are the three new bridges across the River Nile and these include Source of the Nile bridge, Paraa bridge and Isimba public bridge that was recently commissioned by the President of Uganda H.E Yoweri K.Museveni.

In the next five years, government will concentrate on constructing more bridges on the Nile River and these are already under design, these include Laropi, Masindi port and Pakwach. These will also help connect different places and will help sort the difficulties in transport in various districts.

Works are underway for government through UNRA to complete the installation of five multi-deck weighbridges at Mbale, Mubende, Kamdini, Kamengo and Magamaga, as well as three high speed weigh in motion systems at Magamaga, Luwero and Mbarara.

Furthermore, UNRA now operates 12 ferries including the Nakiwogo, Kiyindi, Mbulamuti, Bisina, Masindi, Kyoga – I, Kyoga – II, Albert Nile – 1, Laropi and Obongi, 

The NRM government has given assurance that the roads sector will be given a lot of mileage so that the country looks modern with state-of-the-art road works like the ongoing Express highways and fly over projects.

During FY 2019/20, the total National Road Network increased by 154.43 km to 21,010 Km due to the newly constructed roads and adjustment of lane lengths of some roads. 427.5 Km were added to the paved stock, bringing the total paved stock of the national road network to 5,370km (26%) and, the condition of the network has been above the NDPII targets with 85% for paved and 77% for unpaved roads in fair-to-good category. One ferry was also added to the network while overloading along the network stood at just 3.8%.

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