Leaders representing various cities across Uganda are appealing to the World Bank for an extension of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme (USMID) project. The request aims to provide sufficient time for the completion of ongoing road construction and other infrastructure projects funded by the World Bank.
The USMID initiative, in operation since September 2013, has significantly contributed to the development of infrastructure in beneficiary cities and municipalities. Key areas of improvement include roads, water drainage systems, markets, abattoirs, and street lighting.
As the scheduled closure of the programs approaches in December, mayors and leaders express concerns about incomplete projects. Mr. Cassim Namugali, the mayor of Mbale City, highlights delays in projects such as the Manafwa road due to land disputes, emphasizing the need for an extension to finalize pending works.
Mbale City is currently engaged in construction projects on various roads, including Central road, Manafwa and Marketplace, North Road, Nkokonjeru Terrace, Pallisa Road, and Bishop Wasike Road. These projects, contracted to M/S Dott Services Limited at a cost of Shs30.9 billion, are supervised by M/S Ms AWE & Kom Consults Ltd.
Mr. Steven Masiga, a researcher, expresses concern about potential regrets if the World Bank prematurely ends the ongoing works, especially regarding the incomplete upgrading of bus and taxi parks. Mr. Patrick Segawa, a businessman in Mbale, goes further to request an extension of the program beyond five years, emphasizing the financial challenges faced by new cities in constructing roads.
Addressing concerns about delayed works, Mr. James Kutosi, the spokesperson of Mbale City, attributes the slowdown to ongoing drainage system work. Mr. Robert Kakyebezi, the mayor of Mbarara City, echoes the sentiment, urging the government and World Bank to provide additional time for cities and municipalities to complete their infrastructure projects.
Ms. Dorcas W Okalany, the Permanent Secretary in the Lands ministry, reveals that the government has submitted a request for a time extension. She indicates that they approached development partners with a proposal to extend the program until December 2024 and are awaiting the World Bank’s response.
Mr. Stephen Ajlu, the senior urban development officer at the World Bank, acknowledges challenges in the project, including demands for compensation, the use of a single account to access funds, and contract management. These challenges have affected the smooth progress of the initiative.