The members of the Budget Committee were irritated by the allocation of the funds towards roads in the DRC when local roads in the country remain impassable. But Works minister Gen. Katumba Wamala said he hoped that the committee considers the project as a game changer in terms of trade and security.
Members of the Budget committee of parliament
have opposed a plan by the government of Uganda to fund construction of roads
in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The MPs raised the objections while interfacing
with the State minister in charge of planning David Bahati who had appeared
before the committee on Monday to provide justification for a supplementary budget
totaling to 3.4 trillion shillings.
Two hundred billion shillings in the supplementary budget is earmarked for Uganda's
contribution to the construction of 223km of roads in the DRC following a bilateral
agreement between Uganda and the DRC to implement strategic infrastructure
projects. This amount is Uganda’s contribution of 20% of the roads project.
The total project cost is $334.5m therefore
Uganda’s contribution amounts to $66.9m which is approximately Shillings 254bn.
Bahati had appeared along with the minister
of works Gen. Katumba Wamala.
The Dokolo district woman MP Cecilia Ogwal was
exasperated at the government’s decision to prioritize roads in the DRC over
roads within Uganda that need urgent attention. She told Gen. Wamala that
despite the economic value of the roads in the DRC, all the outstanding urgent
roads in Uganda need to be fixed before embarking on the regional
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Her view was supported by the West Budama North
MP Richard Othieno who also expressed his frustration at the works minister for
abandoning his commitment to local roads and was
instead seeking funds for roads in the DRC.
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Bahati defended the project by insisting that the
regional interconnectivity projects also need to be prioritized since they
promote trade, security and cooperation. He said the project was a resolution
of a bi-lateral agreement between the two presidents – Felix Tshisekedi of the
DRC and Yoweri Museveni and a sign of warm relations between the countries.
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The committee chairperson Amos Lugoloobi accused
Bahati of suppressing funds that had been approved for local roads in order to
fund the project. Lugoloobi stated that that the Uganda's district roads are not being funded
and all the equipment is lying idle.
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Bahati refuted this allegation by proving that
the Uganda National Roads Authority had received 25% of its funding amounting
to Shillings 600bn in the first quarter of the financial year and in the second
quarter the local interconnectivity roads are going to be funded with 30bn shillings which being released this week.
Gen. Katumba Wamala said he hoped that the committee
considers the project as a game changer in terms of trade and security. He said
he was handing over to the committee for consideration the draft
inter-governmental agreement and the draft project development agreement which are
yet to be signed pending approval of funds by parliament.