MPs Oppose Uganda Spending Sh200b on DRC Roads

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.
The Minister of State for Planning David Bahati with the Director Budget Kenneth Mugambe.

Audio 5

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 infrastructural project.

//Cue in: “What priority………………..”

Cue out: “……………….this project.”//

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.

//Cue in: “Gen. you know………”

Cue out: “………….impassable.”//

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.

//Cue in: “and anything…………….”

Cue out: “…………….to our country.”//

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.

//Cue in: “first of all…………..”

Cue out: “……………these roads.”//

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.

//Cue in: “so I’d really…………”

Cue out: “………….for consideration.”’//

Images 1