Gov't to Start Tolling Kampala-Entebbe Expressway Next Year

The toll collections will be made by French firm Egis Operations SPA. Uganda National Roads Authority -UNRA has contracted the firm at a cost of shillings 122billion for maintenance and tolling operations for five years.
Works minister Gen. Katumba Wamala and Minister of state for Transport Fred Byamukama (middle) interact at the Kajjansi tolling gate

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The government will next year start charging road users toll fees along Kampala-Entebbe Expressway. This was announced on Tuesday by the Minister of Works and Transport. Gen Katumba Wamala.

In May 2011, the government acquired a loan worth US 350 Million Dollars (approximately 1.2 Trillion shillings) from the Exim Bank of China to finance the construction of the 51.4km Kampala -Entebbe Expressway. The four-lane expressway comprises two road sections - a 36.94km-long section and a 12.68km-long link road.

According to the loan agreement, the loan repayment schedule will run from July 21st, 2019 to 21st January 2032. In the 13 year repayment period, the government plans to pay USD 26.8 Million (approximately 101.8 billion shillings) a year.

Initially, the government had planned to repay the loan through revenues from the road toll on the Expressway upon its completion.   However, the road toll system had not been implemented and the road was opened to traffic in June 2018.  

In July 2019, the government started repaying the loan.

According to Katumba following the enactment of the Roads Act, 2020 that provides for road tolls, the government is ready to toll the road to repay the loan and also pay the toll operator.

 The toll collections will be made by French firm Egis Operations SPA. Uganda National Roads Authority -UNRA has contracted the firm at a cost of shillings 122billion for maintenance and tolling operations for five years.

According to the toll fees, motorcycles with more than 400cc and not Boda Bodas will pay 3,000 Shillings, light vehicles 5,000 Shillings, medium goods vehicles(2-3axles) 10,000, large goods vehicles and buses(4-5 axles) 15,000 Shillings whereas large goods vehicles will pay 18,000.

Stephen Kirenga, Head of Communications at UNRA, says the road toll rates were arrived at by stakeholders within works and finance ministries among others. The stakeholders considered the loan repayment terms and also costs involved in running the road such as maintenance and costs to provide security, emergencies services such as ambulances.

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Katumba says the toll fees shall be valid for one year from the commencement date for tolling, and that the works ministry shall review and adjust the rates if necessary.

He however says there are weekly and monthly discounts for frequent users who include residents of Entebbe who work in Kampala or motorists who make several trips between the two destinations.

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However, only emergency vehicles the fire brigade and ambulance and the presidential convoy will be exempted from paying the toll.

Kirenga says that UNRA and authority and the contractor will carry out public awareness in the next two months about the tolling system. 

Aron Muwanga, a resident of Kitooro in Entebbe Municipality says that the toll rates are very high. He proposes that they should range from 1,000 to 10,000 Shillings depending on the class of one's vehicle and usage of the road.

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Ali Twaha Sserunkuma, who resides in Busega and works at a warehouse in Kajjansi, says he has been using the expressway to save time and costs. He adds that due to the toll fees, taxi operators could hike the transport costs.

"I pay shillings 5,000 per trip in a taxi and to my workplace in Kajjansi. But with tolling, I hope the taxi people will not increase fares by more than 2,000 shillings.

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Jackson Sserubidde, the chairperson of Airport Taxi Services Ltd says that UNRA should consider adopting the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA model of charging airport taxis a uniform monthly rate. 

"We have 200 airport taxis and we each pay shillings 60,000 per month, that is shillings 2,000 per day as parking fees at the airport. This is a fair rate,"

Sserubidde however says that if the negotiations fail, then the airport taxi operators will have to increase the fares or ask clients to pay the road tolls if they want to use the expressway.