By Max Patrick Ocaido
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has joined the public to complain about the poor state of roads in Kampala City which has worsened the traffic jam in the central business area.
Oulanyah is the latest to complain about rampant potholes that have dominated city roads and early this week he took his despair to his social media wondering what Eng Andrew Kitaka’s Kampala Capital City Authority and other leaders at KCCA are doing about the potholes in the city.
“The way potholes have increased on almost all the roads in Kampala. Now they are the biggest contender to the causes of traffic jam. KCCA what is going on?” Oulanyah wondered.
In the same week, Capt Mike Mukula, NRM Vice-chairperson for the Eastern region also took to social media and questioned KCCA’s competency to curb the increasing traffic jam.
“KCCA, at this rate I am starting to miss Jennifer Musisi as Kampala city slowly slides into anarchy; street vendors, endless traffic jams, Boda Bodas on rampage etc,” Mukula tweeted on Wednesday.
Such complaints from prominent politicians have prompted the new KCCA ED Eng Kitaka to issue a statement assuring city dwellers of their commitment to improving city roads by sealing potholes. He has swiftly started touring a couple of ongoing projects to ascertain the progress of road works.
“…The issue of potholes on City roads is of great concern to us as well. Most of these roads are old and have been battered by the heavy rains we are currently experiencing - hindering their maintenance as well,” Eng Kitaka said.
Kitaka said that the ultimate solution for long-lasting city roads will be conducting major rehabilitation of all these roads “because it is no longer economical to maintain them under their age.”
According to the 2019 Road User Satisfaction Survey, over 64% of road users believe that road agencies do not fix potholes in time, while over 67% feel that agencies do not fix potholes to appropriate standards.
When Jennifer Musisi, former KCCA Executive Director announced her resignation on October 15, 2018, after about 7 years at the helm, there was a mixed public reaction.
Among the challenges, Musisi cited in her resignation letter include; irreconcilable differences between political strategists and technical team of KCCA, limited funding, inadequate political support to the efforts of the KCCA Technical Team and others.
Indeed, some sections of the public especially city dwellers, retailers, taxi operators and hawkers among others celebrated Musisi’s unceremonious exit. Musisi had become a dreaded public figure as she ‘stepped’ on the toes of many in her attempt to sanitize Kampala city.
During her time, complaints of bad city roads were the order of the day. Roadside vendors would dash into hiding each time a KCCA van passed by for fear of being brutally arrested and their small merchandise being confiscated, while taxi operators had only foul words to describe Musisi’s character and what they regarded as unfair policies.
In fact, President Museveni recently blamed Musisi’s “harshness” for his electoral performance in 2016 where the National Resistance Movement (NRM) lost all the constituencies in Kampala with the President getting less than 40% of the vote.
Now, it is exactly one year since Musisi vacated KCCA Headquarters with Eng. Andrew Kitaka Mubiru taking over as Acting ED. The question that remains unanswered is whether city roads, sewerage management, and drainage system among others improved since her exit.
It is clear that despite his vast experience at KCCA, Eng. Kitaka is yet to find his grip and is still struggling to fit into Musisi's shoes considering that it is nearly a year and he has not been confirmed as a substantive Executive Director. He is now embroiled in administrative wars with his junior officers most of whom are also eyeing the top seat, as Kampala city roads get eroded by potholes.
Following recent numerous complaints of bad roads in city roads, several motorists have come to terms with the fact that Musisi’s regime could have been more effective in dealing with congestion and potholed roads.
A recent survey conducted by the New Vision shows that in 2010, Kampala city center had 2,489 potholes which have since then rapidly increased. The survey that was released recently shows that out of 89 roads in Kampala, 73 had potholes with Lumumba Avenue and Buganda Road having the highest number of potholes with 249 and 245 respectively.
The other most potholed city roads are; Ben Kiwanuka, Old Port Bell, Makerere Hill Road, Upper Kololo Terrace, Seventh Street and Namuwongo Stage.
Statistics from KCCA indicate that during the time of Jennifer Musisi, the Authority conducted road works on the majority of city roads. In fact, the government of Uganda alone through funds from Uganda Road Fund (URF) had carried out road maintenance works on 72 Kampala roads since 2011 despite the fact that to date, the same roads have numerous potholes as a result of lack of periodic maintenance works.
In the FY 2015/16 alone, KCCA through funding from government and URF completed works on 34 roads at a cost of about Shs60bn. Among them was Bahai Road, Kyebando Central Road, Kamuli Link, Bukasa Ring Road, Mbogo Road, Church Road, Sebuliba Mutumba Road and others.
It is without a doubt that during the times of Musisi, more efforts and funds had been allocated in road maintenance works than it is today. Currently, KCCA is choking on several projects which are still in the pipeline.
The Authority has over 70 roads in Divisions of Lubaga, Nakawa, Makindye, Kawempe, that have for long been scheduled for upgrading. In the Central Division, KCCA has proposed works on 50 city roads. In the FY 2018/19, a few road projects have been carried out including a pilot Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) corridor along Namirembe road, reconstruction, and upgrading of Kulekana-2.1km, Nsambya-Katwe road, Kyalema Road, Binaisa Road, Kalungu Road, Nanfumbambi and George Serwadda Road.
Other roads that are currently under construction include; Acacia/John Babiiha Avenue, Nakawa-Ntinda Road, Kulambiro Ring Road and Najeera Link, Kabusu-Bunamwaya-Lweza Road and Lukuli Road.
Every financial year, KCCA takes 5% of the URF Budget to finance road maintenance, procurement of light equipment, installation of traffic lights and street lights and junction maintenance and provision of road safety and traffic management.
In October 2019, URF released Shs108bn for Quarter 2 of FY 2019/20 to its designated agencies & sub-agencies for routine & periodic maintenance of various categories of public roads. KCCA has been given Shs5,747,597,205 out of the total Shs23bn allocated to the Authority this FY.