Roads boss optimistic on oil fields feeder network

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January 25—Allen Kagina, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director is optimistic the road infrastructure […]

January 25—Allen Kagina, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director is optimistic the road infrastructure to support future oil production will be in place within a year.

“The feasibility study and preparations of the projects which was taken in-house is now complete. This entailed preparations of preliminary designs with project cost estimates, the environmental social impact assessment and the resettlement action plan. I believe that we are still with in time to complete these roads by 2018,” she told a news conference this week.

Kagina is under pressure, because without an all weather road network, oil companies will find it difficult to haul in the heavy machinery and equipment needed to develop Uganda’s estimated two billion of recoverable crude in the Albertine Graben region. Commercial production is scheduled for 2020.

UNRA officials said construction of the 693 kilometres of feeder roads to the oilfields in western Uganda will cost UGX 3.2 trillion (around $900 million) including any compensation claims and other related expenses.

Of the total amount, the government will contribute UGX 900 billion (just over $250 million) while the rest will be sought from development partners.

Kagina said the procurement and signing of the commercial contracts will be done by end of January 2018 and actual construction is expected to begin this March.

According to the latest UNRA annual financial report ending December 31st,  the Authority has on account UGX 1.06 trillion for developing roads out of the UGX 3.5 trillion approved for the current financial year 2018/19. Out of the released funds, the body has utilised UGX 861.7 billion indicating absorption.

In addition the finance ministry has released UGX 115.8 billion for road maintenance out of the UGX 267.9 billion that was approved.

Some 27 road projects totaling to 1964 kms  are due to get underway including the upgrading of Tirinyi-Pallisa-Kamonkoli road, Muyembe-Nakapiripirit, Masaka Bukakata, upgrading of Kapchorwa-Suam, Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha-Kanungu and civil works for upgrading of the Rwenkunye-Apac-Lira-Puranga.

However the main challenge for UNRA is contractors failing to meet pre-agreed completion dates which often means cost-overruns.  Another problem is the process of seeking right-of-way delays road projects.

“The northern bypass project has taken longer than expected, because the people who did the original designs made mistakes and the designs had to be redone. Also we still have a problem of right of way. Most people want to take advantage and over charge the government. Some land owners are absent and hard to trace plus the family wrangles that block land acquisition. However most of the challenges are now settled and we expect the project to be done in two years,” Kagina said.

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