KAGINA’S UNRA RECORDS IMPRESSIVE FY 2020-21 PERFORMANCE DESPITE COVID19 CHALLENGES
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By Isaac Wandubile
Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) officials have today unveiled their FY2020-21 Financial Year Performance Report which indicates the milestones achieved by the agency in its attempts to connect the country despite challenges such as disruptions occasioned by the Covid19 pandemic.
Presented today at the UNRA offices in Kampala, the report shows how the roads authority is steadily contributing to the realization of the National Development Plan (NDP) III’s strategic objective of Consolidating and increasing the stock and quality of productive infrastructure.
The performance report also indicates how UNRA spent Shs3.9tn in planning, design, rehabilitation, improvement, maintenance and upgrading of the national road network as well as in meeting other costs such as staff wages and administration costs.
In the FY2020/21, a total of Shs1.76tn was approved as development budget from Government of Uganda (GoU). Of this, Shs1.75tn (99.7 per cent) was released, and 99.9 per cent of what was released had been spent by the end of the financial year. “UNRA closed the year with a debt of Shs215bn on the GoU component, arising mainly out of unpaid invoices from the development projects the road maintenance framework contracts,” read the report in part.
On external financing, a total of Shs1.745tn was appropriated in the FY 2020/21, of which Shs1.6tn was cumulatively released by end of financial year, representing 93 per cent of the appropriation released. The absorption rate for external financing was 88 per cent, translating in utilization of Shs14tn of the total amount released.
In the financial year, the Museveni Government oversaw the groundbreaking of new and the commissioning of completed projects, 24 in total.
New projects were: Masaka Town roads, Rwenkunya-Lira-Apac-Puranga, Saaza Road-Iganga, Iganga-Bulopa-Kamuli Road, Muyembe-Nakapiripirit, Hoima Town roads, Busega-Mpigi Expressway, Kiira-Kasangati-Matuga, Najjanankumbi-Busabala, and Mityana-Mubende Road.
Commissioned projects were: Musiita-Lumino/Busia-majanji Road project, Kiyindi-Buvuma Ferry, Soroti-Akisim-Moroto, Bumbobi-Lwhakhakha, Sigulu Ferry, Kashenyi-Mitooma (Kitabi Seminary Acces Road), Bweranyangye Road, Ntungamo-Mirama Hills, Rehabilitation of Kyenjojo-Fortportal, Rehabilitation of Ishaka-Katunguru, Mubende-Kakumiro, Sembabule-Villamaria, Mukono-Katosi and Isimba Public Bridge.
Additionally, Kagina and her team at UNRA is currently upgrading 26 road development projects covering a total distance of 1,734 Km. At the beginning of the year, these were at various stages of construction or physical progress. “The incremental percentage increase in physical progress for all the projects was assessed to be equivalent to 331Km, translated as the total construction output within the FY,” said the roads agency.
The roads being upgraded are: Bulima-Kabwoya (66km), Kyenjojo-Kabwoya (100km), Mubende-Kakumiro-Kagadi (107km), Bumbobi-Lwakhakha (44.5km), Soroti-Katakwi-Akisim (100km), Kigumba-Bulima (69km), Tirinyi-Pallisa-Kumi (67km), Pallisa-Kamonkoli (44km), Masaka-Bukakata (41km), Kampala Northern Bypass (Phase II) (17km), Masindi Park Junction and Tangi Junction-Para-Buliisa (159km), Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko Road (111) and Buhimba-Nalweyo-Bulamagi and Bulamagi-Igayaza-Kakumiro (93km).
Others are: Masindi-Biiso, Hohwa-Nyairongo-Kyarusheesha -Butoole, and Kabaale-Kiziranfumbi Roads (Critical oil Road Package 5) (97km), Kapchorwa-Suam (73km), Kitala-Gerenge (10km), Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha/Kanungu (78.5km), Busega-Mpigi Expressway (23.7km), Muyembe-Nakapiripirit (92km), Atiak-Laropi (66km), Najjanakumbi-Busabala Road, Munyonyo Spur Interchange and Service Roads (28km), Kira-Kasangati-Mattuga (21km), Rwenkunye-Apac (90.9km), Apac-Lira-Puranga (100.1km), Mbarara Town Roads (20.2km) and Mpigi Town Roads (20km).
By June 30, 2021 (end of the financial year), a total of 221km had been added to the paved national road network with four road projects – Tirinyi-Pallisa-Kumi (67km), Pallisa-Kamonkoli (44km), Masaka-Bukakata (41km) and Kigumba-Bulima (69km) – substantially completed. “This brings the total paved stock to 5,591km, which is 26.6 per cent of the national road network,” added ED Kagina in the UNRA report.
Furthermore, a total of 120km of town roads within various cities, towns or municipalities were upgraded along the project roads, which are not part of the national road network, as part of the national roads development program. These were: Bulima-Kabwoya Town roads (3km) in Hoima, Bumbobi-Lwakhakha Town roads (5.8km) in Mbale, Manafwa, Namisindwa Districts, Kyenjojo-Kabwoya Town roads (11km) in Kyenjojo and Kagadi Districts, and Olwiyo-Gulu Town roads (10km) in Gulu and Nwoya Districts.
Others were: Soroti-Akisim Town roads (26.2km) in Katakwi and Soroti District, Mubende-Kakumiro-Kagadi Town roads (24) in Mubende, Kakumiro, Kibaale and kagadi, Mpigi Town Roads (20km) and Mbarara Town Roads (20km).
Kagina’s UNRA also rehabilitated and reconstructed 84.97Km-equivalent out of the targeted 200Km-equivalent. “The slow progress was mainly attributed to the limited funding which affected cashflow on projects as well as the restrictions on travel put in place to control the spread Covid19 virus,” explained the Authority’s ED.
Rehabilitation projects that were substantially completed in the 2020-21 financial year are: Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale (106.7km), Fort Portal-Hima (55km) and Buddo and Nabingo (6km).
Regarding bridges development, UNRA substantially completed 16 bridges while works on 56 others are ongoing.
Completed bridge projects include: Ayugi Bridge on Atiak-Adjumani-Moyo-Yumbe-Manibe road, Ceri, Adidi and Opio Bridges on Pakele-Pabbo road, Mpanga and Mpondwe Bridge on Kampala-Mubende-Fortportal-Uganda/DRC border road, and Lot 1: Design and Build of Aji and Ora bridges including 9.2km access road.
Other projects are: Lot 3: Design and Build of Awoo Bridge, Lot 2- Design and Build of Nariamabune Bridge Including 2km Access Road, Lot 1: Emergency Design and Build of 4 Strategic Bridges in West Nile Sub Region: Ora 1, Ora 2, Awa and Olemika on Pakwach-Inde-Ocoko Road, Isimba Public Bridge and Access Roads, as well as Lot 1: Design and Build Chololo on Chosan-Amudat Road.
Kagina went on to list the 11 new projects whose contracts were awarded in the FY2020-21. They are: Civil Works for the Upgrading of Lot1: Rwenkunye-Apac (91.9Km), Civil Works for the Upgrading of Lot 2: Apac-Lira-Puranga (100.1Km), Design and Build of the upgrading of Kira-Matugga Road and improvement of 5 No. junctions (21km), Design and Build of Upgrading of Najjanakumbi-Busabala Road, Munyonyo Spur Interchange and Service Roads (28 Km), Rehabilitation of Masaka Town roads (7.3km), Civil Works for the Construction of Nagongera-Busolwe-Busaba Road (5Km) Project from gravel to Bituminous Low Volume Sealed Road and the Rehabilitation of Nebi-Alwii Road.
Other procured projects were: Operation and Maintenance of Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, Rehabilitation of Kibuye-Entebbe Road, Upgarading of Moroto-Lokitanyala Road, Rehabilitation of Hima-Katunguru Road (Phase II) and Periodic Maintenance of Kampala-Jinja Road.
Furthermore, by the end of the FY2020-21, UNRA had completed the repair of two Multideck weighbridges at Mbarara and Luwero, paving of Mbarara weigh station parking yard while the four multi-decks of Mubende, Magamaga, Mbale and Kamdini were verified and approved by UNBS for use and are operational while 85 per cent of the PAPs for the Kamengo site had been paid by the end of the financial year.
Installation of three High Speed Weigh in Motion Systems at Mbarara, Luwero and Magamaga was at 60 per cent, with all the equipment delivered to Mpigi stores, and installation awaiting completion of the screening lanes.
Regarding the centralized weighbridge information and management system (in- house project), completion was at 60 per cent with five weighbridges – Luwero, Mbarara, Magamaga, Mubende and Lukaya – so far centralized at the Headquarters.
On ferry services, the 12 ferries – Nakiwogo, Kiyindi, Mbulamuti, Bisina, Masindi, Kyoga I, Kyoga II, Albert Nile 1, Laropi, Obongi, Amuru, and Sigulu – registered 86 per cent adherence to scheduled trips while ferry availability fell from 82 per cent to 64.7 per cent. “Whereas the ferry equipment was more than 96 per cent available, the average crossing availability was low due to flooding of the ferry crossings. Most of the ferries were affected, specifically MV Albert Nile 1 and Obongi, which did not operate during the year,” said Kagina.
She noted that Sigulu Ferry was commissioned but construction of three ferry permanent landing sites is at 37 per cent. The Bukungu-Kagwara-Kaberamaido (BKK) Project is ongoing and so is Amuru-Rhino Camp Project and Kiyindi-Buvuma Ferry landing and Facility Development. For the Lake Bunyonyi Ferries Project, procurement for the construction of two ferries and a permanent landing site is expected to commence while the contractor for the Design and Build of Wanseko Landing Site Project halted works because the site was cut off by high water levels of Lake Albert but overall Progress is at 58 per cent.
As part of its deliberate policy on promotion of local content and building local construction capacity, UNRA awarded 38.8 per cent worth about Shs1.4tn of all the signed contracts to local providers. The award of these contracts was through applications of the local content reservation schemes, accreditations for construction materials and margin of preference in favour of the local and resident providers.
ED Kagina noted that a number of deliberate actions had been taken to increase the level of participation of local firms in the roads sub-sector in compliance with the PPDA Regulations and Guidelines for promotion of local content.
UNRA has made reservation of a number of procurements for local providers a policy. These include: mechanized maintenance of unpaved and paved roads, periodic maintenance of paved and unpaved national roads, Low Volume Sealed Roads (LVSR), swamp improvements, selected bridge works (short span bridges and multiple-cell box culverts), and labour based maintenance of national roads.
The Roads Authority boss further explained that UNRA had obtained accreditation from PPDA for reservation of selected feasibility study and detailed engineering consultancy services for road upgrading projects to local consultancy firms.
To further ensure that more local providers take part in construction of the country’s roads, UNRA has improved dissemination of its performance on implementation of local content and available opportunities. “This includes use of Press Briefings, adverts in newspapers, UNRA Website and participation in public engagements with industry stakeholders (UNABCEC, UACE, UIPE, ERB etc.). In addition, Management uses the numerous on-site engagements,” added Kagina.
She went on to reveal that the agency applied for and was granted accreditation for UNRA’s Construction Unit (CU). “This will enable the CU to purchase of inputs directly from manufacturers, franchise dealers and providers as opposed to strictly following the PPDA Act and Regulations framework.”
Overall, five projects totaling to 274Km were prepared for financing, detailed designs for 21 projects (1,078Km) were developed and 10 road rehabilitation projects totaling to 501Km were completed. Feasibility studies for 16 projects that will cover 1,360 Km were conducted while detailed designs for four weighbridges were completed during the FY2020-21.
“Despite the heavy and long rains experienced during the year, UNRA endeavored to maintain a big percentage of the network in fair to good motorable condition, carried out Routine (Manual and Mechanised) as well as periodic maintenance of roads,” noted Kagina. “Government was able to deliver the much needed services to all communities even during the lockdown. The national roads network in fair to good condition was 96 per cent for paved roads and 81 percent for unpaved roads against the NDPIII target of 85 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively.”
The ED further gave an update on the tolling of the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway whose contract for the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) was awarded to Egis from France. The five-year contract will see Egis undertake works such as lighting of the Expressway from Busega to Mpala, installation of toll collection system and overload control system, and installation of Independent traffic Monitoring system, among others.
“It should however be noted Egis has partnership with local providers such as Abubaker Technical Services, Pinnacle, etc. who are providing all services that are within the capability of local providers,” Kagina explained. “After five years, UNRA will evaluate and determine whether to retain the services and the technology through the local providers. Regarding the Green Right of Way (GROW) Programme, which was launched in 2017 as part of the environmental restoration activities on all road reserves, UNRA stations in Kabale, Jinja, Mubende, Gulu, Mbarara, Kampala, Moroto, Masindi, Hoima, and Kasese planted trees along a total of 316km of the road reserve.
“UNRA will continue with the GROW (Green Right of Way) programme. Under this programme to ensure general environmental conservation, protection of the road reserves, beautification of the roads and providing a great drive experience,” pledged Kagina. “Women and youths groups are particularly employed and paid to plant and maintain the trees and communities are given fruit trees to plant on the boundary of the road reserve.”
As expected, UNRA encountered a number of challenges in the FY2020-21. Kagina explained that the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected UNRA’s ability to achieve the set targets.
“A number of UNRA’s activities such as road construction were affected by the lockdown and partial lockdown. Activities like land acquisition were halted while projects continued to be implemented under very strict Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs). The result of this has been delay in progress with some contractors giving notice to claim for extension of time or cost,” the ED said.
The other challenge was the heavy and long rainy season which resulted in slow progress of the construction projects; several cut-offs which required emergency interventions to reinstate the road sections; and rapid deterioration of the condition of the roads, reducing the service level and increasing the urgent need for periodic maintenance and rehabilitation of some road sections.
The other challenges were related to budgeting and financing. ED Kagina noted that financing for the road development program remained constrained and not in harmony with the five-year plan. For example, UNRA closed the year with a debt of Shs215bn on the GoU financed projects. As the road agency’s boss noted, the arrears and limited financing distorts efforts to successfully achieve NDPIII objectives.
She also complained about a “rigid Public Finance Management Act which does not allow flexibility in utilisation of funds to drive the development program.” UNRA has also called on government to increase the road maintenance budget to enable the authority provide the desired level of service and response to emergencies.
“UNRA’s operational budget has remained inadequate and the same over the years, despite the increase in the development and maintenance programme, the increase in operation and administrative costs and the increase in staff numbers. This has constrained the ability of the organisation to effectively supervise its programmes,” Kagina added.
Meanwhile, UNRA is already undertaking a number of projects that were scheduled for the current (2021/22) financial year. The Roads Authority expects to add 400km to Uganda’s paved stock by substantially completing works on upgrading of Masindi Park Junction and Tangi Junction-Para-Bulisa Roads (159km) project, Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko (111km), upgrading of Buhimba-alweyo-Bulamagi & Bulamagi-Igayaza-Kakumiro Road (93km), Kampala Northern Bypass Phase II (17.5km), Rehabilitation of Sironko-Muyembe/Kapchorwa Phase II (29km) and rehabilitation of Masaka Town roads (7.3km).
Also, UNRA will undertake low cost seal works on the access road to Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial development Centre (3.0Km), Nagongera-Busolwe-Busaba Road (6.0Km), Kalule-Bamunanika low volume Road (11Km), and Bukwiri-Kyankwanzi Road.
New projects planned for the FY 2021-22 include: Critical Oil Roads Package 4: Lusalira-Nkonge-Lumegere and Lumegere-Ssembabule (97Km); Critical Oil Roads Package 6A: Design and build for the Upgrading of Kabwoya-Buhuka Road (43Km); Critical Oil Roads Package 6B: Design and build for the Upgrading of Karugutu-Ntoroko Road (56.5km); Link to Rwebisengo (8.2km) and 3.3km of Town Roads in Ntoroko; upgrading of Moroto-Lokitanyala Road (42km); upgrading Kitgum-Kidepo Road (115km); and design and build of Kisoro-Rubuguri-Muko/ Nteko Road Upgrading Project (72km).
Other road projects scheduled for this financial year are: construction of Muko-Katuna Road (66.6Km), upgrading of Kabale-Lake Bunyonyi Road (15.1km) and Kisoro-Mgahinga Road (18.1km); upgrading of Tororo-Busia Road (26Km) and Mayuge and Busia Town Roads (18Km); upgrading of Moyo-Yumbe-Koboko road (105Km); upgrading of Kituuma-Kapeka-Butalangu Road (37km) and access to Ssingo Barracks (5km) as well as Civil Works for Rehabilitation of Olwiyo-Packwach Road.
For bridges, six of the 37 under construction will be completed. These are: Amou Bridge on Laropi-Palorinya-Obongi Road in Moyo District, Gazi (Rhino Camp) and Aca (Rhino Camp) Bridges, Kibimba and Sironko Bridges, Emergency Repair of Kazinga Channel Bridge on Kasese-Katunguru-Ishasha Road and Multi Cell Box Culvert at Ajeleik.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).