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Minister Azuba urges staff to prevent maritime accidents

By John Odyek

Added 27th June 2019 07:35 AM

“There is much work to be done on transport safety. We continue losing lives on water and road transport,”

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Azuba (center) addressing staff of the ministry of works and transport during the mid-term sector review at Hotel Africana. Looking on are senior officials from the ministry of works. (Photo by John Odyek)

“There is much work to be done on transport safety. We continue losing lives on water and road transport,”

Inland water transport is an important mode of transport in Uganda but has remained underdeveloped. Inland water transport is dominated by the informal sector of small motorised and non-motorised boats.
According to the ministry of works and transport the inland water transport sub-sector has an estimated passenger crossing of about eight million people per year at different landing sites.
The minister of works Eng. Monica Azuba has said the navigation on  Uganda’s water bodies remains risky. Azuba has urged the ministry of works team to put more efforts in preventing accidents on water and roads.
“There is much work to be done on transport safety. We continue losing lives on water and road transport,” Azuba said. She was addressing staff during the midterm sector review of the ministry. The function took place at Hotel Africana.
Azuba explained that more effort was required on sensitizing people on safety issues such as use of life jackets and avoiding overloading boats and vessels. On road accidents she noted that some of the causes were related to road designs which need to be addressed.
She said the ministry will submit to Cabinet the draft Inland Water Transport Bill 2019 which seeks to improve the water transport sector. She said they were waiting for a certificate of financial implications from the ministry of finance to give its approval that the Bill will be funded.
The ministry’s mid- term sector report states that Government is further undertaking measures to reverse the plight of water transport by the construction of a Maritime Rescue Communication Centre at the Fisheries Training Institute and four Search and Rescue Stations at Panyimur, Zengebe, Kiyindi, Masese landing sites where land has been secured.
Funding has been secured from the ADB who have given a no objection for the procurement of start- up equipment, safety and life saving devices and procurement has commenced.
Land at Majanji, Ntoroko, Bugoto landing sites, Bukasa Island is being surveyed and  is to be confirmed for the construction of search and rescue stations.
The report states that 272 inland water vessels have been inspected for safety with 204 issued with safety certificates, two officers have been trained in search and rescue operations. Boat building standards have also been developed under the Multinational Lake Victoria Maritime Communication and Transport Project.
The minister said government wants local contractors to access cheap loans to enable them undertake construction projects. “I feel for the local contractors, access to loans for them is not easy. We are trying to twin local contractors with other contractors to enable them build capacity,” Azuba said.
According to the report the number of local contractors has grown from 30 in 1994 to over 200 today. The report cites concerns about the quantity, quality of work being out to local contractors. It wants ministries, departments agencies of government to begin providing reports on how much work they were giving to local contractors and consultants.
In March 2017, the PPDA issued guidelines which called for giving work to local contractors. According to the ministry’s report there is no data to show that the ministries, agencies and departments of governments (MDAs) are complying with these guidelines.
There are public concerns that the Uganda is losing vast amounts of foreign exchange by giving out much of the local construction projects and consultancies to foreign contractors. The minister urged staff to put in extra efforts to achieve their various targets by the end of the year.
Peter Kabanda, assistant commissioner for planning at the Ministry of Works and Transport said the ministry wants to create a policy measure to strengthen the capacity of local contractors especially in building tarmac roads.
“It will make it easy for the local contractors to compete for local tarmac road construction projects and promote local content,” Kabanda said.
The ministry’s action matrix plan seeks to produce and accredit the contractors register and an electronic contractor registration classification system is being reviewed.
The plan states that the ministry is consulting the Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors, the Uganda Association of Consulting Engineers on undertaking capacity building initiatives in the national construction industry. The ministry wants to promote local content and reservation scheme for local contractors in public procurement.
Kabanda said the ministry was undertaking construction of 30km of low volume roads using low cost seals to reduce frequency of road maintenance. He said they would seal with tarmac troublesome spots of roads within districts and urban areas. He explained that there are areas of roads that become slippery, troublesome for districts and urban areas which the ministry wants to fix.
He said they are lacking information from districts on such areas which become dangerous, difficult to drive through or cause accidents and need specific attention.

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