Needed today, will not be ready by 2030
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | The Ugandan government on March 16 signed a $ 229.5 million (860 billion shillings) financing agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of the latest effort to raise funds for the Kampala highway. -Jinja.
The Kampala-Jinja highway is touted as a highway that will cure the nightmare of traffic jams between two of Uganda’s most important cities, the capital Kampala and Jinja about 80 km in eastern Uganda. When completed, it is expected to boost local industries in districts along its route such as Wakiso, Mukono, Buikwe, Lugazi and Jinja.
But days later, on March 23, frustration over the lack of a highway between the towns boiled over after an afternoon tropical storm flooded the Kyambogo region on the outskirts of Kampala and cut traffic along the existing Kampala-Jinja highway.
Ashraf Mayanja, a taxi driver, was among those caught in the traffic jams that followed. He said The independent how frustrating that a one hour trip to Jinja from Kampala takes him at least three hours.
He said that is about the same time it takes him to travel about 250 km from Mbale in the east to Mukono near Kampala.
“If you reach Mukono at 6 pm, you will be lucky to reach Kampala at 10 pm,” he said. From Mukono to Kampala it is about 25 km to Kampala, but it still takes him three hours.
For road users like Mayanja, the loan signing event should have been celebrated as another step in bringing the dream of a modern highway closer to connecting the capital, Kampala, to the city of Jinja and beyond in eastern Uganda.
Upon signing the agreement with the AfDB, Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, said the highway would improve transport flows, reducing travel time to less than an hour . But the loan signing event instead revealed how far from a reality the Kampala-Jinja Express highway is.
Indeed, the total cost of the 95 km project is around 1.4 billion dollars (5,200 billion shillings). But, according to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), the funding secured so far, including the ADB loan, is about $ 335 million, or about 24% of the funds required.
The EU has already provided a grant of 90 million euros (106 million US dollars) while an additional loan of 90 million US dollars from the French Development Agency has been secured. UNRA officials say the plan is for the government to raise nearly US $ 600 million from private donors, making the road the first to be built in Uganda using a public-private partnership mode. During the construction phase, however, any unpaid balance for the cost of the project will also be borne by the government.
Under the PPP agreement, a private contractor will build, finance and operate the project for 30 years according to a DBFOT model to recover its investment through a road toll system. After 30 years, UNRA will be back on the road.
“The public-private partnership model will bring private sector participation and financing of key infrastructure to Uganda and produce significant economic returns for the country with estimated net revenues of $ 2.1 billion over the concession period. 30 years, ”said Augustine Kpehe. Ngafuan, AfDB Country Director for Uganda, who signed on behalf of the Bank.
With the agreement that at least 30% of the project’s subcontracting would be allocated to local companies under the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy, the project is expected to create at least 1,500 direct jobs during the period. construction phase and 250 jobs during the construction phase. the operational phase, said Ngafuan.
But fundraising difficulties frustrated the project, whose initial preparation began with a feasibility study in 2010. A decade later, the project is still on the drawing board.
In December 2018, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), which is the executing agency, selected four international consortia for the highway.
They included China Communications Construction Company Ltd and China First Highway Engineering Company Ltd, KJ Connect (with Vinci Concessions as a main member), Strabag / ICITAS / EGIS / AIIM / STOA with Strabag as a main member, and the CCKS Consortium of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd, China Wu Yi Co. Ltd, Korea Expressway Corporation and SK Engineering and Construction.
But a year later, in September 2019, President Museveni put an end to that process by inviting another Chinese company, the China Railway 17th Bureau Group Company (CR17th), to be considered as well. Around the same time, MPs in eastern Uganda questioned the government’s decision to use a PPP model on the highway which they criticized for not securing funds for. that.
MPs said the government should have borrowed money for the highway the same way it did for roads in other parts of the country.
“All over the country we have loans, now in the east you say PPP is unacceptable, we don’t want it, we want answers on when are you going to build the road? Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who also serves as MP for Kamuli, Kadaga said. That’s when the government started borrowing some of the money. But two years later, the private entrepreneur has yet to be selected.
Allan Ssempebwa, the UNRA publicist said The independent on March 25 that construction of the highway will begin once all funds are secured. It will be around 2022, he said.
“The procurement process is at the request for proposals stage and bidders have already been prequalified and will be invited to submit technical and financial proposals,” he said, “UNRA is awaiting approval from government before proceeding with the call for proposals which will be followed by the selection of bidders. ” Construction of the highway is expected to take at least five years.
The 95 km highway project includes 77 km of the Kampala-Jinja highway of 4 + 4 lanes for the first 32 km and 2 + 2 lanes for the remaining 45 km with a design speed of up to 120 km per time. It also has a loop known as the Kampala Southern Bypass (KSB) which includes an 18km 2 + 2 lane urban highway with a rated speed of up to 100km per hour.
The highway is designed to alleviate the current congestion and dependency issues on the roads out of Kampala city and on the existing Kampala-Jinja highway. It will also help meet future traffic growth.