The works minister Eng. Abraham Byandala has said that government is to amend the law to increase the reserve of all highways from three to eight meters.
By Cyprian Musoke & Paul Kiwuuwa
KAMPALA - Ugandan works minister Eng. Abraham Byandala has said that government is to amend the law to increase the reserve of all highways from three to eight meters.
This, they argue, will prevent opportunists from building in that space and later demanding compensation from government when time comes for road expansion.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on national economy, Byandala said those who have already constructed within the radius will be compensated to guard against any new settlers.
State minister for finance Gabriel Ajedra, with whom they appeared together with Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) officials, defended government on a $110m (about sh315.7b) loan request from the Islamic Development Bank.
The money is to finance the upgrading of the 92km Muyembe-Nakapiripirit road located in North-Eastern Uganda.
The loan, according to documents seeking resolution of Parliament, has already been concluded awaiting Parliamentary approval.
Byandala explained that the international highway construction rules allow a minimum of six meters and a maximum of eight meters road reserve.
“The Expansion Road Reserve Bill 2015 will be tabled before the Parliament for further debate. When the Bill is enacted into law it will repeal the 1965 law which is archaic and does not comply with international high way construction standards.”
Traffic and road users have since increased (since the law was enacted), hence the need to amend it to provide more space for the increased road users, he said.
The minister added: “Government wants to widen the roads gradually on most of the major highways from single carriage to dual carriages with at least three to seven lanes. A three-meter road reserve can no longer serve such purpose. We have to make a law stating the clear guidelines and penalties to whoever violates it.”
Works minister Eng. Abraham Byandala (left) says government wants to widen roads. (File photo by Ronnie Kijjambu)
Ayivu county MP Benard Atiku asked the minister if government has the capacity to acquire funds to compensate affected people for land reserve expansion.
In response, Byandala quipped: “When the Bill is enacted into law, government will borrow the funds from international banks to compensate the affected owners”.
“Ugandans are becoming smarter – when they project a road expansion, they build in the three-meter road reserve targeting government compensation,” he said.
Government, Byandala added, is also becoming smarter and wants to pre-empt them and reduce those endless wars of compensating the crafty claimants.
“I warn whoever will build intentionally in the eight-meter road reserve that a heavy penalty will be effected.
Committee chairperson Xavier Kyooma asked the minister how the road bridges will be catered for in the financing. “When you expand a road you must have a component to cater for the expansion of the bridges along that road. Have you catered for them too?”
Byandala responded by saying that every financial year, government includes a special vote for bridge maintenance and construction.
Committee vice chairperson Evelyn Kaabule (Luuka) asked why Parliament should continue appropriating more roads when most funds are not absorbed.
“The road sector’s absorption capacity has always been poor year in and out. Why should we continue approving more loans for you?”
The works minister answered that sometimes they are delayed by late submission of road designs but said that they tightened compliance of submission of road designs in time.
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