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Masaka road scouring from underneath - engineers

The engineers found water underneath the road

The engineers found water underneath the road

Engineers have expressed fears that a section of Kampala-Masaka highway in Lwera swamp might be scouring from underneath.       

This follows the appearance of a huge sunken hole that developed into the road on Thursday evening causing concern that the entire section might collapse. The hole developed at the left lane towards Lukaya town from Kampala.    

Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) has already embarked on investigations to establish the likely cause. Although the sunken area was assumed to bare a culvert which was thought to have been washed away or damaged, engineers at the end scene who have excavated within the hole and sideways, note that have failed to trace the culverts.
As such, the engineers have halted the process on seeing that the excavated area had been occupied by water. One of the engineers at the site who sought anonymity so as to talk freely about the matter said that the road is being scoured from underneath by sub surface water. 

“We have halted excavating. If we continue, we might cause damage to the other lane which is currently supporting traffic flow.”    

The occurrence has attracted several reactions from motorists, with some arguing that the section in question was shoddily done. Abbas Ddamulira, a  driver who has been plying the road for the last 20 years, says drivers had raised concerns earlier that this particular section of the road had been poorly done. Ddamulira adds that the Lwera section has several other spots which they think will soon sink in if the authorities do not take action. 

However, another driver Gerald Kiggundu blames it on the ongoing excavation of Lwera swamp in search for sand and rice growing in the area which according to him, has pushed water levels towards the road.  

Kiggundu argues that back in the day, no water could be seen near the road, but flooding started when sand mining and rice growing activities increased. In 2018, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued a statement, warning that continuous sand mining activities in Lwera wetland, posed a serious threat to transport along the Kampala-Masaka highway.     

The sand mining companies assembled stationed dredgers in the middle of the wetland and scooped tonnes of sand more than 10 metres underneath the swamp from an area covering more than 100 kilometres across the highway. The NEMA report also indicated that the activity has a hidden impact on the roads from the logging water and heavy trucks ferrying sand which is rarely discussed.     

The engineers could also not rule out the two possibilities. However, they insisted that Unra will be giving an official position after the investigations. Unra media manager Allan Ssempebwa says they are currently working to ensure safety of the road users as they find out how the road can be restored. He says investigations into the matter have since begun.

Ssempebwa adds that besides the sunken section, Unra will expand the investigations to capture the entire Lwera section given the projected scouring of the entire section so that they find a scope of the work and plan for the due interventions.  

Kampala-Masaka highway is one of the busiest roads in the country with an estimated average daily traffic count of over 30,000 vehicles. The road is the main gateway to Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo handling major cargo to and from.
© 2016 Observer Media Ltd