The State Minister for Works and Transport, Mr. Musa Ecweru, addressed the issue of the country’s deteriorating road network in a candid statement at the Uganda-Japan Quality Infrastructure Workshop in Kampala on December 5, 2023, . Minister Ecweru attributed the problem to a scarcity of resources allocated for road maintenance.
Acknowledging the challenges, Mr. Ecweru emphasized, “I want to say with all honesty that it is true that the road network in the country that was painfully developed over the years has suffered a lot of degradation for two major reasons.” He highlighted the first reason as the lack of adequate resources for maintenance, stating, “The moment you commission a road, there must be adequate resources for maintenance.”
The minister further explained that the road maintenance faced a setback during the two years of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated, “Road maintenance went into limbo, and when we recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, resources have not been coming as expected, particularly for maintenance, not just in the capital city but across the country, leading to serious degradation of roads.”
Mr. Ecweru emphasized the need for resources to accompany the construction of roads, stating, “For every road constructed, there must be resources to maintain it.” He assured the public that discussions were ongoing to explore ways in which the government could mobilize more resources for road maintenance.
Regarding the current state of roads in the capital city, Mr. Ecweru shared, “I’m happy to report to the country that the capital city, which is the face of the country, is being worked on, and more resources are being mobilized to address the potholes that characterize the city at the moment.”
He revealed that detailed road repairs would be initiated once the El-Nino rains being experienced in the country come to an end.
In the context of Uganda-Japan cooperation, Mr. Ecweru highlighted a memorandum of understanding signed a few years back. The agreement involves the Japanese government supporting Uganda in terms of knowledge, technical expertise, and resource sharing for planning, developing, and maintaining quality infrastructure in the country. Projects such as the second Nile Bridge in Jinja and the Foot Bridge/flyover at Clock Tower are cited as examples of the support provided by the Japanese government.
Addressing the importance of road maintenance, Mr. Yoshimura Tomotaka, the deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Japan in Uganda, expressed Japan’s commitment to continuing support through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to help Uganda develop its infrastructure.
Mr. M.M Odongo, the commissioner for construction standards and quality management in the Ministry of Works and Transport, emphasized the critical role of efficient transport infrastructure in Uganda’s competitiveness and ability to harness its regional and global potential. He provided statistics on the country’s road network, highlighting the relatively low percentage of paved roads and the need for increased attention to road maintenance.