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Uganda's minister of Works and Transport Engineer John Nasasira says the government has obtained funds mainly from the World Bank to start tarmacking 10,000km of roads early next year and vowed to rid the country of potholed roads that have made life difficult for motorists using them.
The roads to be tarmacked are spread countrywide and do not include roads in Kampala which are to tackled under a different project to be connected by the ministry of Works and the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) in partnership with Kampala City Council (KCC).
"As part of the Road Sector reforms, the ministry of Works and Transport took over 10,000km of district roads in July 2009 and handed them over to Uganda National Roads Authority. However, there has been an outcry because these roads are in very poor condition. UNRA has, over the last six months, been preparing contracts using almost all local contractors totaling over 100 who have now been awarded contracts throughout the country and will begin work in January," he said.
The minister told journalists in Kampala recently that districts had been advanced money through the Road Fund to be able to recruit scouts, whose work will be to spearhead maintenance of the roads in the districts where they live adding that each district had already been allocated a fully fledged road unit comprising of two tipper trucks, land rollers and other equipment.
"No potholes will be visible on all major roads system by the end of 2011," he stressed, adding that Kampala roads would be treated as a unique case for which it will take another three years to achieve the desired goals.
The minister insists the public perception of the road sector was biased by the bad state of roads in the city yet a lot of progress has been made on the roads outside Kampala. He attributed it to resource constraints and sometimes engineers who make mistakes and compromise the quality of some of the roads. According to the minister, the government has increased the size of the national road network from 10,967km to an estimated 20,000km and this follows a decision to upgrade an additional 10,000km of gravel roads from districts and other category status to national roads status. As part of the national road network, Uganda National Roads Authority also manages 240 bridge structures together with hundreds of drainage structures and culverts.
Some of the contractors that have been allocated on the National Roads include Multiplex, Coil limited, Emtec construction, Prime contractors, BMK(U) limited and Globe consortium amongst others.
Additional roads under periodic rehabilitation include Najanankumbi-Busabala-Kazi road, Nateete-Nakawuka-Kasanje, Nakawuka-Kabojja and Kamwenge-Duru-Rwimi. To improve selected links on the additional network,works are going on Najjanankumbi-Busabala-Nakawuka road (11 km), Nateete-Nakawuka and Kabojja-Kyengera (21km),Chipsikunya-Girik road (28km) and Kamwenge-Dura-Rwimi road (60km). Over 40 periodic maintenance contracts totaling 1,620 km have been awarded for financial year 2010/11 while an additional 22 contracts totaling 1,099 km are under procurement.