By Joel Ogwang
In a move that will further boost private sector investment in the roads sub-sector, the government will tender out the management of three toll plazas to be erected on the Kampala- Entebbe expressway to the private sector.
Works state minister, Eng. John Byabagambi noted that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s business arm, has been consulted to draft modalities under which the tolls at Busega, Abayita Ababiri and Kajjansii will be managed.
“We have engaged the IFC to look at how tolls on the Kampala- Entebbe expressway will be managed by a private operator,” he said.
“We will also involve IFC on the Kampala- Jinja expressway, another toll road whose construction will begin once we procure a contractor.”
Construction of the 51.4km road commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni in November 2012 was contracted to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
Expected to be completed by 2016, the highway is funded off a $476m concessional loan, with China’s EXIM bank contributing $350m while the government financed $126m as counterpart funding towards civil works as well as $100m in compensation of Project Affected Persons for acquisition of Right of Way (RoW).
The road will have five major interchanges at Kibuye, Nateete, Busega, Mityana and Kajjansi to facilitate interconnections with roads at designated locations including the Busega interchange at the interface with the Kampala-Northern Bypass.
Leading EXIM Bank President, Li Riogu, CCCC and the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) officials on a tour of the expressway’s construction site in Busega recently, Byabagambi said tenders for the management of toll plazas would be advertised in 2015.
A man pushes his bicycle beneath pillars erected to carry the Kampala- Entebbe expressway through Busega wetlands.PHOTO: Joel Ogwang
“I am sure we will advertise tenders for a private operator to manage the tolls in 2015 so that by the time of commissioning of the road (in 2016), we will have the private operator in place,” he said.
The government plans to repay the $350m plus the principle to EXIM Bank courtesy of returns from toll revenues over a 25-year period. No toll fee has yet been fixed.
“The road will be like the Bujagali hydro power project. Users will pay a high toll fee but once we are through, it will go down tremendously,” said Byabagambi.
At completion, the Kampala- Entebbe expressway will be the first toll road of its kind operated on a fee for service basis, with restricted access for intruders animals and people through fencing to facilitate mobility especially for new alignment between Busega and Abayita Ababiri.
“All motorists will pay to use the road,” said Byabagambi. “I think even bicycle owners will pay because it will be a high speed road fenced-off with exclusion zones so that no cow or pedestrian goes through on to the road. There will also be no hump on the road so if a vehicle is driving a 100km/ hr and knocks a pedestrian, he or she will obviously die!”
Whilst 15kms of right of way have been acquired courtesy of compensation of property owners along the road stretch, David Luyimbazi, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) director of planning, noted that there were challenges in compensation of property owners.
“We have challenges of absentee landlords, mortgaged land and wrangles over the compensation prices, but we are in the process of addressing this problem (of compensation),” he said.
Byabagambi revealed that some landlords challenged the government valuers estimation of their land and properties, adding that recently, the Solicitor General agreed that UNRA get way lease.
“If the property owners petition court and it (court) decides that we have to pay them more money, we shall do so, but works should continue because the constitution even allows us to use land belonging to individuals and only pay them later. We should have acquired half of right of way if not for delays in compensation,” he said.
Li promised more bilateral cooperation between China and Uganda to improve Uganda’s infrastructure.
“We (Chinese) work seven days a week,” he said. “You have to tell your people (support staff) to work hard just like CCCC to complete the project in time.”
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Private company to manage Kampala- Entebbe expressway