By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA
Motorists in Masaka City are excited following government's release of Shs35.9b for the rehabilitation of the Nyendo-Masaka road.
The 7.3km road section was last tarmacked in the early 1990s and since then, there has been minor repairs .
Most motorists entering Masaka City from Kampala had resorted to using the Masaka-Mbarara bypass through Alex Ssebowa-Katwe road.
Mr Mark Ssali, the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) spokesperson, said the eight-month project contract has been awarded to Chongqing International Construction Corporation.
"The project will officially be commissioned soon. A team from the contractor is already on the ground performing assessment works. We thank the people for being patient," he said during an interview last Friday
Mr Ssali said the project will be implemented within the existing right of way and will not attract compensations.
The Masaka City mayor, Mr Godfrey Kayemba, said the city administration has also been part of the project designs.
"As leaders of Masaka City, we are excited about the project. The road has been in a sorry state for a long time thus retarding development in the area," he said.
He said there have been many private developers willing to set up commercial buildings in Nyendo, but the poor road scared them away.
Mr Kayemba said they would later instal solar lights and traffic signals.
According to a statement from Unra, the road is to be rehabilitated to a Class 1B standard paved road, with an asphalt concrete surfacing on both the carriageway and shoulders on a mechanically modified sub-base and crushed stone base.
The road will have a 7.0m carriageway, 2.0m shoulders and 2.0m raised pedestrian walkway on both sides hence an overall width of 15.0m.
In Nyendo Trading Centre, the road will have 3.0m parking lanes on both sides.
Background. The poor state of Nyendo-Masaka road has in the past led to demonstrations by residents. The last demonstration occurred on April 27, 2018 when residents blocked the road with logs and car tires and later set them ablaze, paralysing traffic. The situation normalised after police intervened and arrested 11 of the demonstrators.
Other projects. Masaka has in the last five years benefited from big government infrastructural projects which have spurred development in the area. The new city has already had its major streets tarmacked under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development funded by the World Bank.
Also, government is embarking on constructing the 41-kilometre Nyendo-Bukakkata road, which connects Masaka to the island district of Kalangala. Once completed, the road will boost the fisheries, farming and tourism sectors in the area.