THE reconstruction of the 150km Masaka-Mbarara highway, at a cost of sh237b, started yesterday.
The project, undertaken by Reynolds Construction Company of Nigeria and supervised by AIC Progetti, should be completed within three years.
The road to undergo reconstruction starts from near the Masaka bypass junction and stretches to Mbarara town.
Also to be reconstructed under the massive project is a 5.5km stretch from Masaka town on the Masaka-Kyotera road. The Masaka-Mbarara highway is a central section of the Northern Corridor, which links the economies of East Africa and the Great Lakes region with the Indian Ocean.
The European Union (EU) has contributed close to sh230 billion to the project, making it the biggest project ever financed by the EU in Uganda.
â€œWe are grateful for the support from the EU which has made this project a reality,â€ works minister John Nasasira said at the ground-breaking ceremony in Lyantonde town yesterday.
The Government drew the plan to re-construct the stretch from Kampala to Katuna three years ago but lack of funds delayed the project, he explained.
â€œThe funds we secured could not allow the construction of the road from Kampala to Mbarara as we had planned. It could only cater for the portion from Masaka to Mbarara which we are commissioning now.â€
He further revealed that the Masaka-Mbarara works would have kicked off in 2005 but had been delayed by the long tendering process.
On completion, the road will benefit about 6,000 vehicles that ply the route every day.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, ambassador De Visscher emphasised the importance of maintenance, which he said should start the day the road is commissioned.
The minister and the ambassador both decried the overloading of vehicles which damages the roads.
Nasasira said he was also concerned about reports that people were stealing construction materials, calling it one of the main causes for shoddy work. He disclosed that the central Government would take over the maintenance of about 800 roads from the local governments this year.
Masaka-Mbarara road repair starts