It is one of the biggest and most ambitious road projects in the 26-years of the NRM Government.
And, when President Yoweri Museveni launches works on the new $476m (about sh1.2 trillions) Kampala-Entebbe Expressway project today, he will, once again, prove the Government's commitment to improving transport by massively investing in the road sector.
Construction works will last four years, ending 2016. On completion, the expressway will be only the second of its kind in eastern Africa, after Ethiopia's 80km Addis Ababa-Adama expressway.
According to Eng. Dr. Michael Odongo, the Uganda Road Fund (URF) executive director, the new highway manifests that Uganda is on the path to modernisation.
"We will have a modern express highway linking Kampala city and Entebbe Airport. It shows we, as a country, are modernising the transport infrastructure."
About the expressway
The project is financed by a concessional loan from China EXIM Bank with additional funding from the Government of Uganda. EXIM Bank provided $350m (about sh910b) and Uganda, $126m (about sh327.6b).
The expressway is a 51.4km dual carriageway which will start at the Northern Bypass' Busega roundabout in Kampala, ending at Entebbe Airport but with a spur to Munyonyo.
It will comprise a four-lane dual carriageway with a 37.23km road connecting Kampala Northern Bypass at Busega with the existing Kampala-Entebbe Road at Abayita Abababiri.
Another 14.13 km road will connect Munyonyo through Lweza with the new Kampala-Entebbe highway. The road will have four major interchanges to facilitate interconnections with roads at designated locations including the Busega interchange at the interface with the Kampala- Northern Bypass.
It will also encompass the Kajjansi interchange at the interface with the spur to Munyonyo, Abayita-Ababiri interchange at the interface with the existing Kampala-Entebbe road and the Lweza interchange at the interface of the spur with the existing Kampala-Entebbe Road.
Five major bridges will be built at Busega, Nalukolongo, Kajjansi, Kamirangoma and Nambigirwa swamp. There will be restricted access for intruders animals and people through fencing to facilitate mobility especially for new alignment between Busega and Abayita Ababiri.
Access will only be permitted at designated intersections or interchanges at Abayita Ababiri, Busega, Lweza, and the intersection of the existing Entebbe Road, with the spur to Munyonyo.
In his foreword in the Tarmac Network, a Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) publication, works and transport minister, Abraham Byandaala reckons the groundbreaking for the new road as a landmark in Uganda's history of road construction and a fitting pointer to a better road infrastructure.
"The express highway will contribute to the vehicular decongestion of the Kampala-Entebbe route, help save on fuel and reduce the pollution that traffic jams generate, releasing time for economic productivity," he says.
The project is contracted to China Communications and Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), who also constructed the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway, says Dan Alinange, the UNRA publicist.
"The new highway will ease travelling, encourage tourism and spur development," he says.
Recouping the loan
Three toll plazas are planned along the Kampala-Entebbe project route, with one at Busega, Abayita Ababiri and Kajjansi.
There will be both manual and auto-tolling. Under auto-tolling, prepaid customers will bear transponders that will open toll gates on arrival while the manual toll will have attendants deployed to issue tickets upon payment of toll dues.
The Government plans to repay the $350m plus the principle to EXIM Bank from the returns of the toll revenues, according to the project plan and implementation manual.
"We started compensating people whose properties will be destroyed in October," says Alinange. "We have so far paid off 300 people at a cost of sh10b."