The construction of the Fort Portal- Bundibugyo- Lamia road has boosted business in areas where the road has been completed.
Construction of the 103 kilometre road started in 2010 and completion is expected to be next year. The road which is being upgraded to tarmac, links Fort Portal to Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and then eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is being upgraded by a Chinese construction firm — Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO).
So far the stretch from Fort Portal town to Sempaya in Bundibugyo district is complete, a distance of 63 kilometres.
This has boosted business in major trading centres like Karugutu in Ntoroko district and Itojo in Bundibugyo.
The road has opened up opportunities for farmers in Bundibugyo and Ntoroko, who were previously unable to reach markets outside their villages. Three markets in Karugutu, Itojo and Kibuku trading centres have been constructed and are becoming busier with produce sold by farmers themselves.
Ruth Bagonza, a farmer in Itojo says in the past it was both tiresome and time-consuming to transport her produce to markets in Fort Portal for sale. Bagonza says she used to spend 7,000 shillings everyday to transport her produce to Fort Portal.
She says that with the emergence of markets on the roadsides, she is sure of clients because there are many who use the road. Bagonza says that vehicles stop and people jump out to buy bananas and fruits from her stall.
Two stores have also been constructed on the side of the road by Karugutu Farmers Association. The stores are being used to keep produce bought from individual farmers for sale in bulk to earn bigger.
James Musinguzi, the chairperson Karugutu farmers association says farmers who don’t have stalls, sell their produce to the store.
The number of commuter taxis plying the road have also increased, unlike in the past when passengers had to wait for a long time for the vehicles. The vehicles can now be accessed at any time of the day.
New structures are also a common site on the road sides from Karugutu to Itojo, many of them permanent. Old buildings have been renovated and those that had been neglected have been completed.
Chris Asiimwe, a resident of Itojo says that since the improvement of the road, he realized that the population in the area would increase and there would be demand for houses. He says he decided to secure a loan and sell some of his cows to finance the construction of three houses.