17 May 2017

Uganda: Taxpayers to Pay More for Entebbe Expressway

Photo: The Observer
A section of the completed four lane Kampala-Express highway road project.

The China Communication Construction Company Limited (CCCC), the contractor of the Kampala-Entebbe expressway, will not complete the road in time because government has not finalized the acquisition of the land.

As a result of the delays, the project manager at CCCC, Li Jincheng, said the construction of the road will be finished six months behind schedule. According to the original plan, the completion date for the Kampala-Entebbe express highway was slated for end of November this year. However, although officials say the project is at least 80 per cent complete, the remaining 20 per cent might take them an additional six months to complete.

"The project completion date has been extended to May 5, 2018. Our contract says completion date is November 17, 2017. We want to complete it on time. [But] the only challenge is that we do not know when they [government] will clear the land, mostly from Mpala up to State House," Li said.

Asked whether the delays being experienced will have any financial implications, Li said: "Because the contract has been extended, it will come with additional costs. But we have not yet made these calculations." He was speaking during a tour of the four-lane toll highway project recently.

Construction of the Kampala-Entebbe expressway started in 2012 with funding from China's Exim Bank to a tune of $350m (nearly Shs 1.2 trillion). The government also contributed its share.

The Uganda National Roads Authority has on several occasions been grilled by the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises about the contractor, the design and the total cost of the project, drawing comparison from similar road projects elsewhere.

WHY COSTS WILL RISE

Officials from CCCC say the original plan of the Kampala-Entebbe expressway has been modified to include a four-lane route on the Mpala-Kitala road. This is a diversion from the original plan of two lanes, according to CCCC.

According to Li, the extension means government will have to incur more expenses in terms of materials and other equipment for the Mpala-Kitala widening section. "We know on our side it is going to add on the cost of widening the section (along Mpala-Kitala). According to the original design, it was a two-lane," Jincheng said.

Officials say most of the 20 per cent of the remaining work is along the Mpala-Kitala route up to State House area, the 12km Munyoyo road, which is underway, and the blasting of the rock at Nalumunye.

According to Abas Mugisha, the civil engineer of the project, the Kitala-State House section might take them longer because people occupying the land do not have the necessary documents to warrant them any compensation from government.

"We are supposed to do some widening and there is also an interchange. Between Kitara and State House, we still have compensation issues. We were promised that by June [2017] they will have paid all of them."

Information from Unra indicates that so far 3,100 affected persons have been paid and at least 1, 435 are being verified for compensation. Meanwhile, given such delays over acquisition of land, government is planning to amend the Land Amendment Act, 2010, to allow a speedy process. The amendment will push for acquisition first and compensation later.

Recently, Matia Kasaija, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, tasked Unra to produce a report on how much government spends on compensation compared to the overall cost of the construction of a road. He said government might be spending more on compensation than the actual cost of the project.

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