After the Entebbe toll highway, will Jinja be next?


The Uganda National Road Authority, presently in the final stages to settle compensation with owners of tracts of land acquired to build the new Entebbe Highway – a project due to break ground some time in 2013 – has indicated that they are looking at a similar joint venture with financiers and investors to build a new multi lane highway between Kampala and Jinja, bypassing the bottlenecks of getting out of the capital and then having to drive through major towns enroute like Bweyogerere, Mukono and Lugazi, all of which is slowing down traffic. The announcement is likely to raise concern with friends of Mabira forest, as they would vehemently oppose another route through the 28.000+ hectares rainforest, though might be persuaded to agree to widen the present road from single carriage to dual carriage.

The cost at present stage for this massive new infrastructure development is pegged at the 700 billion Uganda Shillings mark but informed sources claim that detours around environmentally sensitive areas like Mabira forest and wetlands might drive the project cost up to a trillion Uganda Shillings. The new highway is due to reach Jinja where the new Nile bridge will be constructed, with work also due to start next year and financed largely by Japan. The Entebbe Highway will be financed by Chinese banks and a similar deal is expected for the planned highway to Jinja, and perhaps from there to the common border with Kenya, taking a leaf or two from the massive infrastructure development seen under President Mwai Kibaki’s leadership over the past 9 years.

A regular source form within the tourism industry in an overnight mail said: ‘One of our problems with traffic is we have to go through our towns and cities. When going west at least there is a good bypass around Masaka which was done in 1992. But look at Kampala, all traffic except for the Northern Bypass section, is through town, Mukono, Lugazi, Mbarara and all, through town. This is our challenge to find new routes around these centres so that long distance traffic can swiftly pass and not slow down like right now’. Good news for Uganda@50, as the country has entered the second half century of Independence from Britain, a period for which Ugandans have high hopes and high expectations from government to deliver services and infrastructure, and fast. Watch this space.