Roads authority squeezed for cash amidst high demandsKagina (right) said UNRA is short by about UGX 980 billion ($266 million), which means the planned outputs will be negatively affected.
September 23—Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), the largest single recipient of the government’s annual budget allocations, is asking for yet more money to cover old debt and an anticipated deficit.
This comes three months after the 2019/20 UGX33 trillion ($9 billion) national budget was presented from which UNRA was allocated nearly 20 pc, some UGX6.4 trillion ($1.7 billion) and up from UGX4.7 trillion the previous year.
At the time, finance minister, Matia Kasaija said the government wants to add about 900 kilometres of paved roads to take the total to 6000kms by mid- 2020.
In a recent news briefing, UNRA executive director Allen Kagina blamed several factors for their situation. She cited procurement delays due to numerous whistleblower interventions and the subsequent administrative reviews involved. Also mentioned were cases of inadequate operational and road maintenance budgets, limitations in the planning and budget execution systems and prevailing laws.
Kagina said there are also constraints in financing which prevented UNRA from commencing the procurement and implementation of projects to cope with the demands.
She said, “This means that the allocated budget to the 2019/2020 work plan is short by approximately UGX 980 billion, which means the planned outputs will be negatively affected. For instance, the tourism roads and many other priority road projects in the national development plan ii are yet to be implemented due to lack of funding.”
One of the leading problems for UNRA is compensation talks and eventual payments tend to fall far behind contracting for projects. This frequently means financial penalties for idle equipment.
UNRA officials say there is an already anticipated shortfall of about UGX980 billion resulting from a UGX474 billion debt that was pushed forward from 2018/2019 financial year and a deficit of UGX500 billion need to complete planned projects.
Speaking on the Authority’s financial standing, Kagina said, “UNRA management is doing its best to ensure that resources allocated are efficiently utilised and there is value for money for all stakeholders. The performance of the organisation was largely satisfactory, based on the targets that were set in the national standards indicators and the ministerial policy statement.”
During 2018/19 financial year, UNRA was able to add 310.8 kms to the national road network including the 57 kms Kampala-Entebbe Expressway along with the 28.2 kms spur to Munyonyo and the 28 kms Mbarara Byp-ass. The Authority also operates nine ferries on different major bodies.
Contracts have been awarded for upgrades of the Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha/Kanungu road, Masaka-Bukakata Road, a new Kampala flyover (mostly paid for by the Japanese government) and the proposed Busega-Mpigi Expressway.
The Chinese government is Uganda’s top bilateral creditor amounting to almost a third of the total $11 billion outstanding, but Chinese contractors also dominate in the execution and bidding for civil works, including roads and power power dams across Uganda.