15 December 2017

Uganda: Why Mukono Junction Expansion Has Stalled

Mukono — Bickering among local leaders and traders in Mukono Municipality has frustrated the planned expansion of a junction connecting Kampala-Jinja highway to Kayunga Road in Mukono Town.

The planned expansion of the junction was intended to lessen traffic jam in the busy area.

The disagreements have reportedly forced Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), a government agency mandated to develop and maintain national roads to change its design and abandon the expansion of the junction.

Unra and municipal council authorities had planned to demolish at least 100 lock-up shops in Mukono Taxi Park to expand the junction and put an extra lane, but the affected traders protested the demolition and asked for more time as they look for where to relocate their businesses.

Although Mukono Municipality Mayor George Fred Kagimu supported the project right from the start, the area MP, Ms Betty Nambooze, and a section of lock-up shop owners in Mukono Taxi Park are opposed it.

Mr Kagimu says due to these disagreements, Unra has decided to abandon its earlier plan and resorted to repairing and beatifying the junction.

"It's sad that the junction is not going to be expanded due to some resistance from some stakeholders. We had reached an agreement with lock-up owners to build for them a shopping mall where to relocate, but all that has been put to a halt," Mr Kagimu says.

Ms Nambooze says lock-up shop owners and taxi operators had petitioned the parliamentary Committee on Public Service and Local Government over their planned eviction from the area and the committee had not found time to sit and discuss their petition.

"Some leaders within the municipal council are hiding under this project to grab part of the taxi park land. The space currently available is enough for Unra to expand the junction and there is no need to demolish the lock-ups," Ms Nambooze says.

"We have to consider the poor. If you demolish the lock-ups , where will the poor people go? We need to fight for the poor to also enjoy their life," she adds.

Reynolds Construction Company Ltd was hired to reconstruct Kayunga-Mukono road, but its works stalled last year in Mukono Town as they waited for the traders to relocate.

Mr Kagimu says there was a clear plan by Unra to compensate all the affected traders and refuted claims by Ms Nambooze that some leaders were pushing for individual interests.

"Some people just want to politicise everything. The lockups are located in the road deserve and that is why we wanted them removed. So how could we turn around to grab the same land?" he asks.

Mukono deputy mayor, Mr Kajoba Jamada says: "Some local politicians just want to fail others and show the public that they have done nothing yet it is them frustrating development in the area."

He says the lock-up shops which had been listed for demolition are located in a road reserve and give a bad picture to the town.

Mr Edward Kiwanuka, the chairman of Mukono Taxi Park traders, says they are happy that Unra is not going to demolish their lock-up shops.

But Mr Allan Sempebwa, the Unra media relations manager, says they are still engaging all stakeholders to ensure that the junction is expanded as earlier planned. "For the affected lock-up owners, arrangements for compensation are underway. We appeal for patience in the meantime," he says.

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