A statement by the Minister of State for Works and Transport (Transport) has been dismissed by some Members of Parliament (MPs) from West Nile.
The MPs accuse government of lacking the will to fix roads in the region following a statement by the state minister, Hon. Fred Byamukama’s on the status of the Nebbi-Goli-Paidha-Zombo-Warr-Vurra road works and the Kampala-Jinja Expressway road works.
Also disturbed by the procurement procedures that cause unnecessary delays in implementing national strategic projects, the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, directed that the ministry makes a comprehensive statement to the House on the state of roads in the country within two weeks.
“Nearly every day, one of you comes to my office on issues of roads. We need one Thursday to handle roads comprehensively. I want it to be reflected in the budgeting process,” said Tayebwa during plenary sitting on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.
Minister Byamukama said that whereas works on the 119 km Nebbi-Goli-Paidha-Zombo-Warr-Vurra Road was prioritised in the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), the works were deferred due to limited resources available in the Medium Term Expenditure.
“Government has made efforts to secure financing for upgrading of the road. The Nebbi – Goli (19km) section of the road was submitted to the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) for funding,” he said.
He added that if approved by the financer, works on the road will commence in the 2024/2025 financial year.
Hon. Esther Afoyochan (NRM, Zombo District Woman MP) implored Parliament to fast track approval of the loan to construct the road.
“If we do not put our feet down, we shall continue complaining about this same road that has killed very many women and the Ministry is not bothered. If we can borrow for any other thing, why not for Zombo?” she asked.
Hon. Lawrence Biyika (NRM, Ora County) said that in its current state, the road has frustrated efforts by the locals to invest in agriculture and yet the region is agro-based.
“This road is important for the economic development and security of Uganda,” said Biyika.
Hon. Gabriel Okumu (NRM, Okoro County) said that government is losing billions of shillings from coffee exportation to eastern DR Congo as a result of inaccessibility caused by the poor road network.
Hon. Lillian Paparu (NRM, Arua District Woman MP) decried the prolonged time locals spend crossing the road, saying that it takes as long as a week, and she urged the minister to provide a tangible solution.
“Minister, I think you are just romancing your words; you have not given us clear feedback. Do not take people for granted. We are here saying we want to eradicate poverty, if that road is not worked upon, then we are not doing anything,” she said.
On the 77 km Kampala-Jinja Expressway, the minister said government is in the process of procuring the right private developer to construct the road, adding that acquisition of land is ongoing, with the required 45 kms secured.
“This includes 14 km along the Southern Bypass and 31 km along the Kampala – Jinja mainline,” he said.
Fowwing the minister’s statement, Hon. Jonathan Odur, (UPC, Erute County South) was prompted to rise on a procedural matter.
“Countrywide, people are demanding for good roads. Mr Speaker, I ask that you persuade that this minister be sent back, so that we debate the statement and make recommendations,” said Odur.