MPs have rejected a plan by government to fund the construction of Kampala -Jinja expressway through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The 85-kilometre road was planned to be constructed using funding from a loan from the African Development Bank (ADB). The expressway is located along Uganda’s Northern Corridor, a strategic route within the region linking Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan with Kenya’s Mombasa maritime port.
Raising on a matter of national importance during Thursday’s sitting, Hon. James Waluswaka (NRM, Bunyole West County) tasked government to explain the changes and the delayed commencement of works on the road.
“Why are they targeting eastern Uganda where indicators show that we have the worst poverty levels in the country? Is it a deliberate effort to leave the easterners stunted?” said Waluswaka.
Hon. Barnabas Tinkasimire (NRM, Buyaga County West) questioned the change and yet signing of the contract with ADB is in the final stages.
“Why are you abandoning ADB and resorting to another source of funding. How has government abandoned an already finished contract to start afresh,” said Tinkasimire.
Hon. Jacob Marksons Oboth (Ind. West Budama County South) said that PPP is not a guaranteed source of funding.
“If you want construction of an 85-kilometer road to fail, take it to PPP. PPP is still a struggling source of funding,” Oboth said.
Hon. Jack Wamanga- Wamai termed the change of plans as ‘unfair, saying that whilst roads in other parts of the country are financed using loans, the ones in the Eastern Uganda are not.
“I think we should mobilize the people hailing from the side of the Nile to come and tell Government that this road must be constructed. We must force government to get this loan and work on this road,” Wamanga Wamai said.
Efforts by the Minister of State for Planning, Hon David Bahati to justify the decision to fund the road construction through PPP met resistance from Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and several legislators.
“Government is prioritizing construction of the road through the Public Private Partnership,” said Bahati.
Kadaga warned government against the use of PPP, saying that it is a risky investment.
“On this one, I will take off my gloves. You cannot experiment PPP on the east. Everywhere else in the country we have got loans, when it comes to the east, you want PPP. It is unacceptable, we don’t want it,” Kadaga said.
Kadaga tasked government to give an answer on when the road construction will start and the source of funding, to which Bahati pledged to report back in two weeks.