Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Executive Director Allen Kagina has appealed to Parliament for adequate funding. Kagina made this plea on August 16, 2022 while appearing before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).
“Where we really need the support of Parliament is on funding because all these projects can only progress when we have enough money to acquire land in this area where we are talking about land acquisition. But we are constantly getting cuts. I think we heard Juliet giving information to the committee yesterday that they crossed over into this new financial year with a debt for land only at Shs 140 Billion,” she cited.
“And yet in the first quarter we didn’t get a shilling on development and yet we are continuing to go to people and saying we want land to construct roads….If we get adequate funding, we can acquire land quickly and move faster,” Kagina added.
Documents indicate that, UNRA approved budget for the 2021/22 Financial Year was Shs 3.654 Trillion, out of which Shs 3.15 Trillion representing 89% was released.
Kagina contends that this glaring budget cut is taking a toll on ongoing efforts to acquire Right of Way and complete projects on time.
Her submission this Wednesday was triggered by concerns raised by COSASE Chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi and Yusuf Nsibambi bordering on the delayed compensation of 129 Project Affected Persons (PAPs) on proposed Kampala-Jinja Expressway (KJE).
The KJE which is poised at easing traffic flow is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) consisting of a 95 km limited access tolled expressway between Kampala and Jinja cities.
Last year in March, the Government and African Development Bank (ADB) reached a $229.5 financing agreement for the first phase of the project.
Status of PAPs
Kagina said much as the aforementioned Project Affected Persons are going to be compensated, they are squatters on Government land and do not possess titles to this end.
“This is land owned by National Housing and Construction Corporation (NHCC) in Kasokoso (Wakiso district) and NHCC has a title. Those are the ones recognized as land owners but there are people living on that land. If you recall, a few years ago, there was some tension over that area, in fact it turned violent,” she chipped in.”
According to International Finance Corporation (IFC) standards, the people who are actually there are expected to be compensated even if they are not land owners and even if the title belongs to somebody else. So this is why we went to the solicitor General for guidance,” Kagina summed.
Initially, COSASE Chairperson Ssenyonyi said the resettlement of PAPs was scheduled to be completed in December 2020 but was then moved to May this year and as things look, this is not about to happen.
“What is happening with this project because nine months later, there is no contractor. Then of course there are these issues of resettling these people and so on. So can we get a general status update? We saw in the news sometime back, you excited us and then hurt our feelings because we are not seeing any work progressing. People were looking forward to this project,”Ssenyonyi posed.
Progress of the ProjectAccording to UNRAs Director Network Planning and Engineering Eng Isaac Wani envisages civil works on KJE to commence in December 2023 after conclusion of the procurement process. Three firms are so far understood to have been shortlisted.
“We expect to conclude the procurement process by June and in accordance with the PPP Act, there are certain steps that follow thereafter. That means that we have to concretize the financing from the private party and once that is concluded, then that agreement is sent to cabinet for approval…So we envisage that process to take us up to December of next year,” Wani estimated.