WORK ON MULTI LANE HIGHWAY TO JINJA TO START IN 2015
(Posted 23rd October 2013)
(Picture courtesy of Uganda National Roads Authority)
Whether by coincidence or by design has the Uganda National Road Authority, in short UNRA, in recent days taken to the public and the media with their plans to build a state of the art highway from the outskirts of Kampala to Jinja as part of the intra African highway from Mombasa to the hinterland.
Of late some rather lunatic ideas have been floated in the media to build a Kampala city airport, some 45 kilometres away from the main international gateway of Entebbe for ‘convenience’ of people wanting to fly to Jinja which is a mere 80 kilometres away from the capital. Both municipalities, Entebbe and Jinja, will in due course be connected by multi lane highways, with the Entebbe route already under construction while the Jinja connection is due to be kicked off in a year and a half after land compensation issues have been addressed.
‘I think UNRA wants to nip that airport rubbish in the bud as early as possible because when you look at the overall cost, the stretch to Jinja might cost a trillion Uganda Shillings including all the compensation for land. Me I think they are driving home the point that there is only so much money to go around and it should not be wasted on non starters’ wrote a regular source when debating the issue mentioned in an earlier article about the Uganda Civil Aviation launching their strategic plan review during which the Kampala City Airport once again was raised, to the dismay of many who suspect this, as is the talk of the revival of a national airline, will be a giant scheme to milk public coffers without giving lasting value while opening the door to potential mega corruption.
Like with the Entebbe multi lane highway, UNRA has kept the planned route a tightly guarded secret to avoid speculation in land along that route escalating the cost of compensation.
The new Jinja highway will like the new bridge in Jinja over the Nile, upstream from the present road across the Owen Falls dam and the present railway bridge, be supported by the government of Japan, although the construction and operation of the road will very likely be done in the format of a private public partnership to reduce the cost for government. Highway users, like to Entebbe, will have to pay a road toll, a small price to pay considering that the present traffic jams are delaying journeys by road to both destinations considerably and linking the two new highways to the present Northern Bypass around Kampala to decongest city traffic. For now, it is clear that UNRA has been actively working on some major new highway projects, and while a decade late, compared to what has been happening in Kenya where in particular in and around Nairobi major highways have been complete or are at the final stage of completion, it is nevertheless encouraging to see that the Pearl of Africa is finally playing some serious catch up. Watch this space.