Construction work on the Mbale-Tirinyi Nakalama road have stalled. This comes six months after the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) terminated a contract with Dott Services Ltd to rehabilitate the road. The contract was terminated on allegations of shoddy work.
The company was awarded the contract to work on the 100.2km road at US $20.2m after completing rehabilitation of Mbale-Tororo-Soroti highway in 2015 at cost of US $52.5m.
According to a September 2, 2017 letter signed by Unra acting Executive Director Edna Rugumayo, the contract was terminated because the contractor failed to comply with the contractual obligations and was unwilling to be supervised by the road’s authority.
“We have immediately commenced the procurement of a new contractor. This process is now in a very advanced stage and we expect to have a contract signed by the end of September 2017 and the contractor on site by the end of October 2017,” Ms Rugumayo wrote then, although there is no progress on ground.
However, residents are now vexed over the deteriorating state of the road and government’s delay to finalize its construction.
By the time the contract was terminated, the physical progress on the road was 19.09% against the planned 94.46%. The contractor abandoned the road after digging open holes and water channels thus making the road impassable and prone to accidents.
Residents along the stretch have on several occasions protested and blocked the road, describing it as a death-trap. On such occasions, traffic flow has been paralyzed and transport fares increased.
In August, a group of Members of Parliament led by Mr John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County) staged a demonstration over the same, which was blocked by police, claiming the legislators had not sought permission from the police.
Leaders from Budaka, Mbale, Namutumba, Iganga and Kibuku districts have faulted the government for delaying the construction works on the road. Vendors and traders operating on the road have also cried foul over dust that has affected their goods.
“The contractor left the road with open water channels, which pose a danger to both the motorists and the pedestrians but the government is not bothered,” Mr Umali Hamba, a former Kamonkoli Sub-county councillor in Budaka District, said. Mr Hamba also accused UNRA of failing to maintain the road.
“They have failed to keep the road passable and control the dust by watering. This is very disappointing and disgusting,” he said.
Mr Steven Masika, another road user, faulted the government for awarding contracts to companies without capacity to do standard work. “This is what you get when you award contracts to companies with no technical capacity,” he said.
The Budaka LCV chairperson, Mr Sam Mulomi, said UNRA had committed itself that the works on the road would resume in October, but nothing has been done.
“We issued a notice to UNRA threatening to carry out massive demonstrations over the state of the road but later, we called it off after they promised that the construction will soon begin by September. Unfortunately, there are no signs. We are planning to hold the demonstration again,” he said.