Edward Katumba Wamala, The Minister for Works and Transport has come out to give various reasons as to why Ugandan Roads are more expensive than in any other Country with in East Africa.
The ongoing discussion regarding the elevated expenses associated with public infrastructure projects in Uganda, when contrasted with neighboring regions and global averages, remains a point of contention involving citizens, civil organizations, politicians, and the government.
Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has directed the engineering community in Uganda to elucidate the reasons behind the higher Ugandan Roads construction costs in the country compared to its neighbors.
Tayebwa noted that the cost of constructing roads in Uganda is notably thrice the expense in Kenya and Rwanda.
He recommended collaborative efforts between the government and the Institute of Professional Engineers (UIPE) to establish a unified regional construction standards framework, aiming to standardize norms, expenses, and facilitate shared practices among the nations.
These remarks were delivered during the 26th National Technology Conference and Exhibition in Kampala, themed “Tapping Engineering Opportunities for Accelerated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation.”
The genesis of this debate traces back to 2018 when the 51-kilometer Entebbe Expressway was commissioned. This project was budgeted at 476 million dollars, equating to approximately 9.3 million dollars or 34 billion shillings per kilometer.
By comparison, Kenya’s 50-kilometer Thika Super Highway, a project of similar scale, amounted to around 360 million dollars or 7 million dollars per kilometer, which equals 26 billion Uganda Shillings.
Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport, cited diverse factors such as landscape variations, land acquisition regulations, resource accessibility, and logistical considerations, particularly concerning imported materials, as contributors to the cost disparities.
He also mentioned that the government’s delays in contractor payments further escalate project expenditures of the Ugandan Roads.
Statistical records from the industry indicate that constructing one kilometer of road in Uganda averages around 3 billion Uganda Shillings, while the equivalent figure in Kenya is 1 billion.
Globally, constructing a four-lane road costs approximately 1.1 to 1.3 million dollars per kilometer in India, 1.3 to 1.6 million in China, and 2.5 to 3.5 million dollars in Europe, illustrating Uganda’s relatively competitive costs.
Engineers have persistently advocated for enhanced support to local companies through affirmative measures.
Andrew Muhwezi, President of UIPE, urged both government and parliament to expedite the enactment of the Local Content and Engineering Professionals Bill, which aims to elevate professional standards and safeguard local contractors.
Tayebwa assured engineers that although the Engineering Professionals Bill is awaiting a Certificate of Financial Implications from the cabinet, the Local Content Bill is set to become law imminently following the president’s reconsideration. He emphasized its imminent passage.
Regarding support for local contractors, General Wamala conceded that sufficient professional expertise exists but the informal nature of operations makes it challenging to undertake substantial projects.
He urged unity among engineers to foster larger companies, pledging government support through local content policies.
Isaac Mutenyo, the Institute’s Chairman, noted that out of the roughly 250,000 individuals involved in the engineering sector, a majority lack formal qualifications.
The institute highlights the necessity to accommodate all industry participants across various levels through comprehensive regulations, in order to transparently manage the substantial funds allocated to the industry annually.
In line with the conference theme, UIPE President Andrew Muhwezi emphasized the need to scrutinize the aspects of the continental trade agreement relevant to the engineering field.
He stressed that engineers must take responsibility for establishing adequate infrastructure to facilitate unobstructed trade movement. Moreover, Muhwezi underscored the importance of aligning infrastructure projects with Net Zero Carbon Emission targets.