Investigate Cause of Recurring Pothole Problems Before Repairs - Expert

Recently during lockdown between March and July Kampala Capital City Authority- KCCA carried out road maintenance works on a number of roads, filling potholes and doing sectional repairs. However, the potholes have reemerged and sectional works affected too in no time.
A pothole in a Road in Kampala Central Business Area. On the sides is material that came from the re-emerged pothole.

Audio 3

An expert has advised that the government needs to investigate the cause of the recurring pothole problems in Kampala before rushing to repair them. The expert says filling the potholes without fixing the cause is likely to defeat the cause. 

Recently during the COVID-19 lockdown between March and July Kampala Capital City Authority- KCCA carried out road maintenance works on a number of roads, filling potholes and doing sectional repairs. However, in just a few months the potholes have re-emerged and sectional works affected in some areas.

For instance, at Sir Apollo Kaggwa from the bakery towards Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School and at Kayunga Road in Kamwokya just after branching off from Kira road after Media Plaza, the potholes have resurfaced. It is the same case in some parts of Kololo and on some city roads in the Central Business area.

Eng. Michael Mudanye, a highway Engineer working with Prome Consultants Ltd says KCCA needs to investigate the cause of the reoccurence of the potholes before filling them. Then, they will be able to tell if filling is a sustainable remedy.  

//Cue in: "Before I fix...   

Cue out: " comes back."//  

Eng. Mudanye says that the roads can be eroded and damaged by water. When water enters and moisturizes the roads, it causes the asphalt material used for road construction to crack or get damaged. The level of effect depends on the amount of water, how long and often it lasts on the road and the strength of the asphalt among other factors.

Eng. Mudanye says the solution would then be improving the drainage system in Kampala which includes liaising with building owners to control the amount of water they release especially during rainy days into the roads.   

//Cue in: "One could be...  

Cue out: ...going to carry."//  

Eng. David Sserunjoji, the KCCA Roads Supervisor says the challenge is known, but adds that they are limited by funding. He says the age of the roads, more traffic load and poor drainage system are the problems. He says that due to poor drainage, water into the old roads weakens the base of the road hence causing them to break.

Also, KCCA says the roads were designed for 100,000 vehicles, but now Kampala has over 400,000 vehicles. The increased force on the road also affects the roads and causes cracks and breaking.

He adds that Kampala roads have outlived and are difficult to maintain with the remedial works that KCCA is able to do. He says because of old age of the roads, while patching a hole, the force used affects the surrounding and the also soon cracks start emerging and become potholes.

//Cue in: "A thing I...  

Cue out:"...weakening it further."//

Eng. Sserunjoji says that with better maintenance procedures, the roads can survive for at least ten years without a pothole. On top of having a better drainage system, for instance, he says, the option could be that they patch a pothole and then add another layer to the entire road. Alternatively, he says, they can recycle the material and reconstruct the road with another base layer and asphalt layer. He however says with minimal funding, this cannot be done.

KCCA gets around Shillings 30 billion from the Uganda Road Fund for road works in the city. It also gets about Shillings 160 billion from Central government. Kampala has a total of 1200km of roads but only 30 percent making 630 km is paved.

According to KCCA, they need at least three billion shillings to construct a kilometer of road in Kampala with proper drainage, walkway and street lights.

In the last five years ending 2018/2019, KCCA paved only 164.5 km of roads compared to the 600km they had set out to do.  

Images 1