Uganda will spend almost twice as much as Rwanda will in the Mbarara-Katuna highway reconstruction project.
By Josephine Maseruka
Uganda will spend almost twice as much as Rwanda will to reconstruct each kilometer of road under the Mbarara-Katuna highway three-year joint project.
This is in spite of the fact that the two countries are sourcing the funds from the same donor – the European Union (EU)
The 124km-stretch from Mbarara to Katuna in western Uganda will cost Euro 117m for its reconstruction while the 78km Katuna-to-Kigali stretch will cost Euro 47m, placing the total cost at about 160m Euros.
This means that it will cost Uganda about Euro 950,000 to construct a kilometer of tarmac road compared to Rwanda’s cost share of about Euro 600,000.
The cost ratio of the construction project pits Uganda on the two-thirds end and Rwanda on the one-third end.
Biggest EU fund
The Mbarara-Katuna-Kigali road project is the largest in Uganda and Rwanda to be funded by the EU grant. Construction work commenced in August 2011 and is expected to be completed in August 2014.
The project concerns the rehabilitation of an important section of the northern corridor route which is the main transport link between the port of Mombasa in Kenya and land-locked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DR Congo.
Rwanda’s stretch will be constructed by a European firm, Strabag International, while Uganda has awarded the contract to Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) from Switzerland.
Probe into matter
President Yoweri Museveni, in his New Year nation address last Saturday regretted that the cost of the Mbarara-Katuna road could have been inflated to double the total cost of the Katuna-Kigali section.
“ I want to caution all those involved in this kind of outright theft that the law will undoubtedly catch up with them sooner than later.
“I am repeating my directive to the auditor general to immediately carry out a forensic value for Money Audit in the roads sector using a firm of international repute and urgently submit a comprehensive report,” Museveni said.
The executive director of the Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA), the body responsible for the development and maintenance of national road, Peter Ssebanakitta on Monday denied any wrong doing.
“We are very transparent in service delivery. The European Union which has offered the grant is also the funding agency in Rwanda and we cannot procure anything without their consent.”
“The contract was awarded after a very transparent bidding process where seven international companies applied; and we considered the lowest bidder –RCC.”
Ssebanakitta further pointed out the body’s concern over “these remarks” and that “very soon we are to meet as a team with our counterparts in Rwanda to find out why there is that variation in construction costs.”
Museveni said that transport infrastructure, one of government’s priority areas in the current financial year, has several challenges, including the lack of value for money spent on numerous road projects, high unit costs and corruption by both political and technical officers within the sector.
He said that contractors collude with politicians and technical officers to inflate contracts and carry out substandard road works.
In account of the difference in costs, UNRA publicist Dan Alinange argued that the Mbarara-Katuna road will be widened from 6.5 metres to 11 metres , which is almost double the current road size.
He added that Uganda’s stretch has two contracts; the Mbarara-Ntungamo and Ntungamo- Katuna, and the work will be done concurrently.
Alinange revealed that at the commissioning of the Mbarara-Katuna road on December 23, UNRA was concerned about the funding variations, “and since the President has also hinted on it we are soon to meet over the matter.”
Still according to the publicist, the cost also depends on where the construction materials are obtained, the nature of road designs, the duration of construction, among other factors.
Corruption cited in Mbarara-Katuna road rebuild