Last week, the city of Kampala was abuzz with activity as President Yoweri Museveni took to the streets, inspecting roadworks ahead of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference scheduled for January 2024.
While the president’s intervention in infrastructure matters is ostensibly a proactive move, it begs the question: why does it take the head of state to personally oversee the construction and repair of roads?
Uganda, poised to chair the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) association of 120 members from 2024 to 2026, is currently facing a critical situation concerning its road infrastructure.
The deplorable condition of Kampala’s roads is widely known, with citizens witnessing thoroughfares that are both outdated and poorly maintained.
The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) attributes this to lack of sufficient funds for resurfacing these dilapidated roads, some dating back to 1970. However, this claim of limited funds is met with skepticism, particularly when considering the role of corruption.
Reports indicate that allocated funds for roadworks often vanish into a web of corruption, leading to subpar construction and an absence of accountability. The KCCA’s stance on inadequate funding not only serves as a convenient excuse but also highlights a broader systemic issue.
A notable case in point is the Northern Bypass project, started in 2005, which has yet to complete its first phase despite numerous updates. This situation contrasts starkly with Kenya, where similar projects are executed much more swiftly, raising concerns about Uganda’s infrastructure development approach.
President Museveni’s recent involvement in road inspections exemplifies a governance style where solutions are typically reactive. The sporadic nature of road construction, along with the president’s direct intervention, suggests that projects often stall without his involvement.
Ugandan taxpayers, who ultimately bear the cost of these inefficiencies, appear to be overlooked, with their contributions lost to the depths of mismanagement and corruption. The discrepancy in project timelines between Uganda and its East African neighbors not only reflects lack of political will but also a failure to adopt regional best practices.
As Uganda prepares to host the NAM conference, the global community’s eyes are on the nation. While the president’s recent attention to roadworks is a step forward, it should not be an isolated action.
Addressing these issues requires systemic changes, enhanced transparency and a commitment to prioritizing citizens’ needs over political maneuvers. The state of Uganda’s roads demands consistent focus and action, not just in preparation for international events.
The nation urgently needs true accountability and effective governance to provide its citizens with the quality infrastructure they rightfully deserve.