At Busega, a key section of the under-construction Entebbe-Kampala express highway, workers of the China Communication Construction Company, (CCCC) were seen last week carefully putting final touches to the huge concrete slabs that will separate the lanes along the flyover.
Not far away, a couple of welders were at work under the watchful eye of their supervisors who milled around trying to make sure all was okay. Busega is one of the key sections of the Entebbe-Kampala express highway, which connects to the northern bypass.
It is roughly 300 metres and with most of the ground work already done. Officials of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) told The Observer during an onsite visit that before the end of the year, the road will be complete and ready for use.
In many ways, this section reflects some of the progress so far made in the construction of the 51km dual-carriage road, which when complete is expected to cost $450 million. Once complete, around 2017, the road will ease movement from Kampala to Entebbe International airport and also lessen the traffic congestion on the old Kampala-Entebbe road.
The Entebbe-Express highway starts at Abayita Ababiri, on the old Kampala-Entebbe Road, goes through Ssisa, Kajjansi, Kabojja, and ends at Busega, where it joins the Northern bypass, a distance of approximately 37km. A spur branches off the highway at Kajjansi, to connect to Munyonyo, a Kampala suburb, a distance of about 14km.
The road will have three road toll points at Busega, Kajjansi and Mpala, where motorists will be required to pay a fee to access the road. A total length of 25km of the 51km has been cleared so far. And construction of many of the sub-structures such as piles, flyovers, drainage channels and abutment caps at Busega and Nalukolongolo bridges is complete.
In the same vein, works on the Munyonyo spur from Kajjansi interchange have commenced. Another key feature on the Entebbe-Kampala express highway is the 1.5km-long flyover at Nambirigwa, about 35km from Busega. Built above a swamp, it is the longest flyover/bridge in the country. The new Jinja bridge, which is still under construction, is 500 metres long.
Dan Alinange, the UNRA spokesperson, told The Observer during the tour of the road that so far at least 35 per cent of the physical works on the road are complete. He was optimistic that by the end of the year, 50 per cent of the road works will be complete.
“I think we are moving well. Construction is still on schedule. We have had some challenges but they will be solved soon,” Alinange said.
Some of the challenges, Alinange said, have to do with the land ownership laws in the country, which in some cases allow for multiple ownership of land. This delays the compensation process and inevitably affects the project.
Another encumbrance, Alinange said, is the huge rock owned by Omega construction firm at Kajjansi. The firm mines stones from it. The firm and UNRA are yet to agree on the amount of compensation, which has stalled work on that section of the road.
“The good thing is that both sides are talking and we are nearing an agreement. This should not be a problem in a few months,” Alinange said.
Government has so far spent Shs 83 billion to compensate 1,800 property owners affected by the project. A further Shs 40 billion will be paid out in the next phase of compensation.