Districts Struggle With Poor Roads As Equipment Fails

Districts across the country are struggling with the road equipment distributed to them by the government in 2012. FAW, a Chinese company, supplied the equipment at a cost of 100 million US dollars, approximately 248.7 billion Uganda shillings.

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Districts across the country are struggling with the roadequipment distributed to them by the government in 2012.   

FAW, a Chinese company, supplied the equipment at a cost of 100million US dollars, approximately 248.7 billion Uganda shillings.   

Most of the equipment commonly referred to as road units were,however, faulty right from the start, with most breaking down within a month.This made it difficult for the districts to work on the roads since the equipment could not be used to open up new roads, hard and rocky areas.   

An investigation by the Parliamentary Committee of Public Service and Local Governments for 2013/2014 financial year found out that only four districts had worked on more than 400 kilometers of the district roads since the equipment were given out about two years ago. The rest of the districts had done less than 100 kilometers of road works.  

Serere district leads the list of districts that did well with up to 800 kilometers of roads worked upon, followed by Rakai at 600 kilometers. Kabale district worked on up to 450km of the roads while Kayunga district completed the list with 400km of roads worked on.   

Among the worst performing districts are; Butaleja with only 14 kilometers of roads worked on, Moyo with 22 kilometers, Kaberamaido with 26, and Jinja and Amuru tying at 32 kilometers of roads worked on. The committee noted that the graders for Bushenyi, Rukungiri and Lwengo districts remained nonfunctional, with Lwengo accused of deliberately making their equipment idle so that they could hire from private entities at more expensive costs.   

In Wakiso district, the situation is not better. Being one of the districts with big populations, Wakiso officials think giving the district only a single grader is like an insult.  Matia Lwanga Bwanika, the district chairperson,says the district has seven constituencies, with a big population. He says they have tried, but being a district that surrounds Kampala, the challenges are enormous. He says in addition to doing routine maintenance, the district has to respond to emergency calls by ministers when they get stuck in the mud.  

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Lwanga also says the quality of the equipment given is very poor.He says the graders given were meant for light work yet they are being forced to use them opening up roads which need heavy equipment. He has challenged the government to provide better equipment if the road conditions in the districts are to improve.  

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The committee agrees with the assessment by the Wakiso district chairperson. The committee in its recommendation urges that government should acquire heavy equipment to supplement the light ones procured to enable local governments open new roads. They also call on the local government and Works ministries to ensure strict supervision, engage trained operators and provide more funds for completion of the roads earmarked for construction. 

Officials from the Ministry of Local Government have not yet commented on the issue.   Patrick Mutabwire, the acting Permanent Secretary of the ministry, could not be reached for comments. 

Officials from FAW, the Chinese company that supplied the graders were also unavailable. Calls made to their known mobile phone numbers went unanswered.