Residents block Kamuli Road during a riot recently over its poor state. PHOTO by dalton wanyera
The officials, led by their Executive Director Peter Ssebanakitta, yesterday went to Parliament to request for the approval of a $75 million (about Shs180 billion) loan from the World Bank.
They appeared before the joint Committee of National Economy and Physical Infrastructure where the line Minister Abraham Byandala (Katikamu North, NRM) told members that the President had asked him to find the money for roads.
“When we gave UNRA $200 million (Shs480 billion) three years ago, they were not ready to use the money and there were problems of absorption capacity,” Mr Byandala said. “We no longer have such problems. In fact, we have even tendered some roads yet there is no money. The problem is availability of the funds and not absorption capacity.”
While Mr Ssebanakitta did not reveal the details of the affected roads, UNRA spokesperson Dan Alinange told Daily Monitor that Moroto-Nakapiripiriti road, Mukono-Katosi, Kapchorwa-Suam, Mpigi-Madu- Ssembabule and Kagamba-Ishaka roads will be affected unless the government finds Shs200 billion.
In the recent past, UNRA made headlines for failure to spend billions of shillings for roads due to poor absorption capacity but Mr Alinange said the money is needed because the days of low absorption capacity are over.
“We were given Shs900 billion this financial year but this money is not enough,” Mr Alinange said. “We have written to Ministry of Finance requesting for a supplementary.”
The committee memebers complained that a number of roads in their constituencies remain impassable 50 years after independence.
Huda Aleru (Yumbe Woman, NRM) complained that because of PAC chairperson Kassiano Wadri, hailing from that district, the government has deliberately refused to work on Yumbe-Terego-Arua road.
“More than 80 per cent of tobacco is grown in Yumbe and Terego, but the farmers are suffering because of the poor roads,” she said.
In his response, Mr Byandala said: “It’s not true that some roads are political, we follow technical evaluation. But because we are in charge, there are some things we have to do to ensure the stability of the nation. We have no problem with Honourable Wadri. His being in opposition has nothing to do with the construction of the roads in his area.”
Mr Simon Peter Aleper (Moroto Municipality, NRM) accused the government of using the people of Karamoja for elections and ignoring their needs afterwards.
“Why is it difficult to have European Union funding roads in Karamoja? What is the problem? Is it because our people in Karamoja don’t want good roads?”
By Yasiin Mugerwa, Daily Monitor