The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is to contract companies to maintain 21,000Kilometres of district roads to keep them in good condition.
UNRA spokesperson Dan Alinange told the media that the roads authority cannot work on them because of low staffing levels and underfunding.
Alinange says UNRA will award three year contracts to companies to maintain the roads. The companies will slash, grade, and fix pot holes instead of people waiting for UNRA staff to work on the roads.
Alinange says UNRA is considering the idea because they are grossly underfunded. The road authority needs between 30 and 40million shillings for a kilometre of murram road. The money covers grading, graveling, and working on the drainage. Yet government can only provide five million shillings.
Alinange says UNRA is so heavily underfunded that it has a backlog of 600kilometres of roads that are in urgent need of maintenance.
The road authority is currently in charge of 21,000 Kilometres of roads up from 10,000Kilometres that they inherited from the districts but the budget has remained the same.
Last week the Acting UNRA Executive Director, Ssebbugga Kimeze, told a midterm joint transport sector review workshop at Hotel Africana in Kampala, that the authority was grossly underfunded.
Last year UNRA received 1.6 trillion shillings of which only 150billion shillings was meant for road maintenance. The balance of the money goes into reconstruction of major roads like the Kampala – Masaka and Kazo – Kamwenge roads among others.
This year government has budgeted for 180billion shillings to gravel and work on the drainages for 21,000 Kilometres of roads yet UNRA budget for road maintenance is 400billion shillings.
Alinange says the ultimate solution lies in UNRA acquiring at least three road units for each of 22 stations but with the current budget it’s impossible.
Last year UNRA acquired ten graders with eight more expected to be bought this year.
Alinange says they are not only underfunded but they are also spread so thin on the ground that each of the 22 stations oversees 2000 Kilometres of roads within their vicinity. Internationally acceptable standard of road maintenance per station is 500 Kilometres for every station.
UNRA hopes that when the Uganda Road Fund finally becomes operational, the authority would access the right amounts of money for road maintenance.