Still smarting from the decision of the World Bank to cancel funding to the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is conducting environmental and social safeguards compliance assessments on all the on-going road projects including those under construction, rehabilitation and defects liability period.
“In order to attain high standards and excellence in the planning and implementation of road projects, UNRA seeks to ensure that all projects are preceded by environmental and social assessments (ESIA), with environmental and social management plans prepared, and effectively implemented,” the authority said in a notice to contractors, consultants and other stakeholders.
The roads authority has also indicated that it is set to revise the safeguards procedures, as well as the Environmental and Social Management Systems to march international standards.
“While the assessment will go into details of each of the thematic areas it will generally cover; the Human Resource Policies and Labour Management Procedures, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Road Safety, Access and Traffic Management, Crime Management, Occupational Health and Safety, Accident Management, Grievance management and Anti-retaliation, Management of Sensitive Ecosystems, Waste Management, Restoration Initiatives, Gender Mainstreaming as well as HIV/AIDS Mitigation activities,” read the statement.
The assessment started on March 22nd and will end on April 12th. Besides contractors and consultants, UNRA is also consulting with the affected communities, relevant local government leaders and any other local leaders to collect their views on roads projects.
While addressing a press conference in January, Allen Kagina, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) said the roads authority will now work closer with communities.
“The main stakeholder is the community in which a road is passing. As UNRA we have not always done that, we bring in contractors, they begin work, and the community may have concerns, and we have not always listened,” she said.
World Bank cancelled funding to the project because of contractual breaches related to poor project performance, social and environmental concerns, workers’ issues, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct by contractors.
“The multiple failures we’ve seen in this project -- on the part of the World Bank, the government of Uganda, and a government contractor – are unacceptable,” said Jim Yong Kim, the president of the Bretton Woods’ institution in a statement after the December move.