On Sunday, President Yoweri Museveni commissioned the civil works for a 41km road in fulfillment of both the 2018/19 budget priority and one of his campaign pledges that won him and the NRM government a five-year term in 2016.
Kalangala district was among the hard-to-reach areas, but with this road, it will become an easy-to-reach district, thereby boosting the tourism sector; the district is blessed with islands that have beautiful sceneries and beaches.
Let me define the main features of the road, which form my opinion today. The commissioned road shall be upgraded from gravel to class II bituminous standard with a seven-metre-wide carriageway and 1.5-metre-wide shoulders and it will entail five-kilometre linking to Lambu landing site.
The road construction project envisions key works to include: clearing and grubbing within the right way, earthworks, rock fill in swamps, construction of the drainage network and construction of the pavement layers.
Other works include: double bitumen surface treatment, 200m-thick crushed stone base layer, 100mm-thick layer of CRS as upper sub-base layer, 150mm-thick improved lower sub-base layer (blend of natural gravel and pit sand), 300mm-thick selected sub-grade layer, surfacing of carriageway and shoulders, and embankment of the protection works.
The same project will take care of upgrading existing town roads: Nyendo-Kitovu cathedral - St Henry’s Kitovu-Kitovu hospital (4km, rehabilitation and improvement) and Mutesa I Royal University road (1km, reconstruction and improvement) and Kako road (1.5km.)
The overall objective of this particular project is to promote equal access to economic and social development opportunities across Uganda, improvement of the quality of the national road network and connectivity to all areas of the country and continual improvement of national road sector that is on the national level.
But at the local level, the objectives include: improving of access to goods/passenger transport services and reduction of transport costs along the smooth route, improve access to social and economic development opportunities along the route and ensuring that there are no roadside communities that become worse off as a result of road construction works.
In addition, people in local communities have immense direct benefits during the two-year period of road works. The opportunities range from jobs to creation of awareness and sensitization of people about the pandemic of HIV/Aids to the increment of business opportunities for local people.
The project, therefore, is in line with NRM government’s strategy for economic development and eradication of poverty. As the minister of state, Works, I would implore fellow Ugandans - especially the local people residing along Masaka-Bukakata road - to tap into the benefits, specifically employment and business opportunities.
I am certain that the project will make strides in changing the lives of our people across the country. However, I would ask the political leadership in the area to get involved in the entire process, especially monitoring the contractors for effectual implementation.
Some Ugandans will rush to say that the money for these road works is borrowed from Arab Bank for Economic Development of Africa and Opec Fund for International Development.
Granted, it’s borrowed money. But I seek to remind whoever holds such a view that we shall collectively have to repay those loans together through the taxes we pay, thus making it prudent for us all to make efforts to ensure that money paid to the contractors and consultants is put to good use to avert undue losses as a result of shoddy works or otherwise.
Fortunately, I observed the presence of almost all political, community, prominent religious leaders and civil servants, which strengthens my faith in this project transforming the lives of Ugandans.
Lastly, I wish to express my gratitude to President Museveni for the fulfillment of the campaign pledge, my senior minister Ntege Azuba for her able leadership, and Allen Kagina for leading the implementation agency on behalf of the ministry and government.
The writer is the minister of State for Works.