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PEOPLE&POWER

WhyUgandanscontinuetosufferdespite
heavyinvestmentinroads

TrucksgetstuckonamuddyroadinKaramojasubregionrecently.Manytruckstransportingproduceinruralareasgetstuckduringtherainyseasonduetopoorroads
INSUMMARY

Heavyinvestment.InexplainingwhytheinvestmentofShs7.2trillionintheroadssectorsince2008hasnotdeliveredacommensuratenumberofconstructedroads,AbrahamByandala,the
ministerofWorksandTransport,saysthehighpopulationgrowthrateistheproblem,writesDictaAsiimwe

AugustineAkutu,afarmerinAmuriaDistrictinTesosubregion,isstuckwithmorethanthreetruckfulsofdriedcassavainhisstore.Misfortunebefellhimafter
aproducedealerwhorecentlyboughtpartofhisharvestsufferedlosswhenthetruckcarryingitgotstuckinmudlessthan100metresfromAkutushome.
MarketingtheharvesthassinceturnedouttobeAkutusbiggestchallengebecauseofthemuddyroad.Thebuyerwhosetruckgotstuckinmudhadhadmisgivings
aboutbuyingAkutuscassava,citingtheimpassableaccessroad.
Aftersomehaggling,theBusiabasedbuyeragreedtopayShs450perkilogrammeofdriedcassava,insteadoftheShs500perkgwhichhadearlierbeendecided.
Thepriceofakilogrammeofdriedcassavainthearea,Akutusays,hasdroppedfurthertoShs300duetothebadroads.
Akutufearshiscassavacrop,spreadoutonallof65acresoflandinwhichhesayshehasinvestedatleastShs20m,couldfetchamuchlowerprofitthanhehad
anticipated.
Akututhinksthatwhathefacesisalocalproblem.HesaysthelocalleadersinAmuria,whocomefromadifferentsideofthedistrict,haveconcentratedonfixing
theirarea.Butthisthinkingdoesnotseemtoholdtrue,especiallyifyouaskPhillipKiiza,atruckerandproducemiddleman.
Accidentsduringrainyseason
KiizasayshehasspentatleastShs5monrepairinghistruckduetoaccidentsheattributestoslipperyroads.HetransportsproducefromtheMtElgonareato
Karamojaandferrieslivestockonthereturnjourneys.Hesaysaccidentsincreaseduringtherainyseason.
Mostoftheroadsthatbecomeimpassableduringtherainyseason,Kiizasays,leadtodistrictheadquarters,meaningthattheyarenationalroadsthekindthat
qualifytobeonthelistofthosethatshouldbepaved.
ThisthenbegsthequestionhowcomethegiantincreasesinfinancingfortheroadssectoroverthepastsevenyearshaveyettobringasmileonAkutusface?
Inthefinancialyear2008/2009,Ugandaembarkedonheavyinvestmentintheroadssector.
Asaresult,allocationstotheMinistryofWorksandTransportdoubledfromShs563.7billion($213.7million)inthe2007/2008financialyeartoShs1.1trillion

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($417million)ayearlaterwhilefinancingforothersectorsstagnated.
Sincethen,theroadssectorhasreceivedatotalofShs7.2trillion($2.7billion)moneythatshouldhavedelivered3,680kmofnationalroads,iftheestimatesof
NationalDevelopmentPlan(NDP)aretobebelieved.TheNDPestimatesthatinvestmentofShs4.5trillion,shouldconstruct2,300kmofroad.
ButDanAlinange,theUgandaNationalRoadsAuthorityspokesperson(UNRA),sayssince2008,hisorganisationhasconstructedatotalof1,527km.
Another1,500kmisunderconstruction,yetoverthisperiod,allocationstotheroadssectorhavetotalledShs7.2trillion($2.7billion),withabout14percentof
thismoneygoingtothemaintenanceofunpavedroads.
Inexplainingwhytheheavyinvestmentintheroadssectorhasnotdeliveredacommensuratenumberofconstructedroads,AbrahamByandala,theministerof
WorksandTransport,saidthehighpopulationgrowthratewastheproblem.
Theministersaysthehighpopulationgrowthmeansgovernmentisconstructingandrepairingmanyroadsacrossthecountry.Andsomeoftheseroadsaremurram
but,cannotbetalliedbecausetheyarenotpaved,yetthesetooneedconstantrepairandmoney.
Doyouknowthatyearsagogovernmentwasconstructingroadsforsevenmillionpeoplebutwenowhavetoreachapopulationofmorethan30million?he
asks.
Criticsofthegovernment,however,saythelargepopulationisnottheproblem,sinceUgandansalwaysclusteraroundthesameareasbasedontribeandeconomic
activity.Andin1969,Ugandaspopulationwas9.5million,meaningitisaverylongtimeagosincethiscountryhadsevenmillionpeople.
Thecriticsinsteadpointtolackoflongtermplanningfortheroadssector.Thishasmeantgovernmentconstructingthesameroadsseveraltimes,without
wideningthenetworktoreachthelikesofAkutuandthe80percentofthepopulationwholiveinruralareasandhaveagricultureastheirmainsourceof
employment.
Accordingto,WilliamNzoghu,theshadowministerforinfrastructure,theproblemispoorplanning.AndthatUgandaconstructstoomanyshorttermroadswitha
lifespanoffiveto10years.Theserequirerepeatingafterashortwhile.

Denyingcountryfunds
MrNzoghu,theBusongoraNorthMP,saysconstructingthesameroadsarerepeatedoverandoveragain,deniesthecountryfundingnecessaryforconstructionof
roadsthatcansupportthebusinesscommunitytoeasilyreachfarmerssuchasAkutu.
SomeoftheroadsthataretoberepeatedafterashorttimeincludetheSorotiMbale,MbaleTororo,SorotiLira,LiraKamdiniandtheKampalaNorthernBypass.
OthersareKaseseFortPortal,KaseseKatungulu,MityanaroadandPakwachNebbi.
Andthereconstructionofsomeoftheroadshasalreadystarted.
AccordingofficialsatUNRA,feasibilitystudiesandroaddesignsforthe340kmstretchthatstartsfromSorotiMbale,MbaleTororo,SorotiLira,andLira
Kamdiniareongoing.TheplanistostartthereconstructionprocessbyMay2016.
Ugandahasalreadyagreedonthefinancingforthisproject,asbothCabinetandtheWorldBankhaveapprovedaloanworthShs620.7billion($241.5million)for
thereconstructionofthisstretch.TheloanisnowawaitingfinalapprovalfromParliament,beforedisbursementofthefundscanstart.
MrNzoghupointsoutthatstartingthereconstructionoftheseroadsinMay2016,however,meansUgandawouldhavewasteditsresourcesonearlierprojectson
thesamestretchasSorotiLiraandLiraKamdiniwascompletedinApril2010andAugust2011respectively.TheSorotiMbale,MbaleTororostretchthatwas
startedinNovember2010isnotevencomplete.
TheviewthatrepetitionofthesameroadsisaffectinggovernmentcapacitytodeliverroadstofarmerssuchasAkutuisfurthersupportedbythepercentageofnew
roadsdonebyUNRA.AlookatthekilometresofroadcompletedbyUNRA,forexample,showsthatonlylessthan20percentwerenewroads.Therestwereold
roadsbeingreconstructedorrepaired.
Becausethesameroadsarerepeatedregularly,informationfromtheNDPshowsthatUgandaskilometresofpavedroadsincreasedfrom2,200in1996to2,650in
2003andto3,050kmin2008.Butafter2008,whenfinancingfortheroadsectorrapidlyimproved,thekilometresofpavedroadsonlyincreasedto4,000.
ThismeansthattheheavyinvestmentoverthelastsevenyearswhichwasmeanttoalleviateUgandasinfrastructuredeficithasdeliveredanetofjust950km,
suggestingthatbusinessmenbasedinruralareassuchasAkutuwillhavetowaitaverylongtimebeforegettingtheroadstheyneed.
ThisisexacerbatedbythepromisebyMrByandalawhosaysroadswillsoonlosetheprioritystatusenjoyedinthepast.
MrByandalasaysgovernmentwillsoonreducefundingtotheroadssector.ThisistohappenafterthecompletionofUgandasmajortransportcorridors.
Governmentisworkingonallmajorcorridors,oncethisiscompleted,resourceswillbeshiftedtootherareas,includingagricultureandsocialserviceslikehealth
andeducation,hesays.

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Themajorcorridorsincludethenortherncorridorandthecentralcorridor.ThecentralcorridorconnectsUgandatoTanzaniawhilethenorthernoneincludes
highwaysthatconnectUgandatoKenya,RwandaandSouthSudan.
Thesehighwaysaremostlydonorfundedandtheministerspronouncementssuggestthatgovernmentismovingonandtheroadsectorcouldsoonreturnto
underfundedstatus,leavingfarmerslikeAkututostrugglewiththeirproduceoverinaccessibility.
Anddonorswontbecoveringthisgapeither.
DrJeanPascalNguessaNganou,asenioreconomistwiththeWorldBank,saysUgandawilloverthenextfivetoeightyearsinvest$14billion(aboutShs38
trillion)toconstructastandardgaugerailway,threedamsforhydropowergeneration,andtwohighwaysconnectingthecapitalKampalatoJinjaintheeastand
Entebbetothesouth.Anoilpipelineandrefinerywillalsobeconstructedduringthisperiodatatotalcostof$7billion(aboutShs19trillion).
Allthemoneytoinvestinthisinfrastructurewillbeborrowedwithgovernmentplanningtopayupusingresourcesfromoil.DrNganousaystheoilandthese
resourcesareexpectedattheendofthisdecade.
Withtheseloans,UgandawhichsawitsGDPincreasetojust$25billion(Shs68trillion)afterrebasingandalreadyhasapublicdebtof$7.2billion(Shs19.8
trillion)willthereforebeborrowedtothehiltandwillhavelittleornoroomtogetmoremoneyfortheconstructionofroadsthatconnectfarmerslikeAkutu.
InformationfromtheministryofFinanceshowsthattherapidincreaseininfrastructurefundingoverthelastsevenyearshasbeenfacilitatedbydonorfundingand
borrowing.
AccordingtoDrNganou,accommodationofrisinginfrastructureinvestmentdemandsamidstfallingaidlevelsandstagnanttaxrevenuehasnotbeeneasy.This
explainswhygovernmenthasdecidedtoborrowagainsttheanticipatedoilreturns.
ThisthensuggeststhattheMinistryofWorksandTransportsquanderedthesevenyearopportunity,inwhichgovernmentcouldhavetakenroadstoruralareas,
whereagriculture,Ugandasmostimportantactivity,takesplace.
This,accordingtosomegovernmentofficials,wasdonetopleasedonorswhofundandbackUgandawheneverthecountryneedstoborrowandinvestindifferent
publicprogrammes.
MrAlinange,forexample,saysUNRAwillrepeatSorotiTororoMbaleandtheSorotiLiraKamdini,insteadoftryingtoconstructroadstoreachthelikesof
Akutubecausedonorswantitthatway.
GiventheimportanceofSouthSudan,theWorldBankthinksthecorridorshouldbeupgradedtobecomeaclassoneinsteadoftheclasstwoitcurrentlyis,he
says.
MrAlinangeexplainsthatthisroadisaclasstwobut,theWorldBankwantsitreconstructedtothesamestatureastheMbararaMasakaroad.
TheWorldBank,however,deniesthischargearguingthattheirdecisiontoinvestintheSorotiMbaleTororoandtheSorotiLiraKamdiniroadwasduetothe
shorttermdesignlifeofUgandanroads.

Shortdesignlife
DrNganousaystheshortdesignlifeandthelackofmaintenancemeansUgandanroadsonlylastaboutsixyears.AndthattheWorldBankonlydecidedtogive
moneyforreconstructionoftheSorotiMbaleTororoandSorotiLiraKamdiniroadifthegovernmentcouldprovidemoneyforperiodicmaintenancetoextend
theseroadslifespan,thisrepetitiveinvestmentwouldnotbenecessary.
RoadsinUgandaaredesignedtolastforaperiodofbetweenfourandsixyears,thusperiodicmaintenanceisneededtomaintaintheroadstockconstant,hesays.
DrNganouaddsthatgovernmenthas,however,failedtoallocateresourcestotheroadfundwhichwasrecentlycreatedtoringfencespendingformaintenance
purposesandthishadcausedtheneedtorepeatthesameroads.
AccordingtoDrNganou,this,alongsidecorruptionandthemismanagementofsomeroadprojects,explainswhyfarmerssuchasAkutuwillcontinuetosuffer
loss,becausetherearenoroadstoaccesstheirproduceintheruralareas.
ThisstorywassponsoredbytheAfricanCentreforMediaExcellence

Thenumbers
Shs563.7b
AllocationstotheMinistryofWorksandTransportinthe2007/2008financialyear.
Shs1trillion
AllocationstotheMinistryofWorksandTransportdoubled2008/2009.Fundingforthesectordoubleswhileothersectorsstagnated.
Shs7trillion
Themoneytheroadsectorhasreceivedsincethe2007/2008financialyear.UNRAsaystheyhaveconstructed1,527kmsince2008.
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3,050km
Ugandaskilometresofpavedroadsasof2008accordingtotheNationalDevelopmentPlan.
1,527km
ThekilometresofroadUNRAhasconstructedsince2008.Another1,500kmisunderconstruction.
$14billion
MoneyUgandawillneedoverthenextfivetoeightyearstoconstructastandardgaugerailway,threedamsforhydropowergenerationandtwohighways.
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