If all goes according to plan, the eagerly-awaited Entebbe expressway will open to motorists in May 2018. Already, there are several sections of the 49.5km stretch operating for limited use even though the contractors, China Communications Constructions Company (CCCC), are yet to put final touches to it.
On a recent visit by ministry of Works officials to assess the progress, Joseph Zheng Biao, the acting CCCC country manager, said more than 80 per cent of civil work on the road is complete.
"We are on track to deliver the project in 2018 so that Ugandans can enjoy the benefits this expressway will bring to roadusers and the business community in both Kampala and Entebbe," Biao said.
It was observed that the only remaining impediment to completion is government's delay to resolve land acquisition issues in some places. This hold-up is a result of the long verification process of land ownership as well as some individuals who have refused the compensation government, through the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), offered.
Aggrey Henry Bagiire, the state minister for Works and Transport, expects vehicle owners plying the Kampala and Entebbe route to incur lower costs when the new expressway becomes operational.
"The amount of fuel lost in traffic jams on Entebbe road in a day is a lot. Our economists have done the mathematics and put it in billions of shillings a day. The expressway will help our people travel faster, ease the jam on the current road and enable them to save money and time," he said.
In the same vein, Li Jincheng, the project manager, said the expressway will reduce the time spent from Kampala to Entebbe by about 300 per cent.
"When the road is finished, it will help to reduce on the traffic pressure. The road will reduce the journey from Kampala to Entebbe from the current two hours to less than 40 minutes," he said.
The expressway project comprises a four-lane dual carriageway measuring 36.94km and links Kampala-Northern bypass at Busega with the existing Kampala-Entebbe road at Abayita Abababiri. Another 12.62km extension connects to Munyonyo through Kajjansi.
According to Bagiire, the expressway was born out of the need to decongest the city. The Kampala-Entebbe road is the second-busiest in Uganda after the Kampala-Jinja highway.
Traffic statistics show that usage of the road increased from 50,102 vehicles per year in 1991 to over 635, 656 by 2011 and the figure is higher currently.