Uganda National Roads Authority supplement
UNRA tarmacks over 4700km road network
Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is celebrating 10 years since it came into existence, Owen Wagabaza spoke to Allen Kagina, the UNRA executive Director on a number of issues and below is the excerpt.
It is three years since you were appointed to head UNRA, how did you fi nd the institution and what have you done to rectify the situation?
I found when the institution had done a lot. It was constructing roads, maintaining them and doing what it was mandated to do. However, my coming in was to address the question of how was that being done. My entrance into the organisation coincided with the commission of inquiry which brought out a lot of mismanagement of the organisation.
The fact is what I found was an institution that would perhaps benefit from better process management, better stakeholder engagement, better accountability to the public.
There were perceptions and incidences of corruption, but I also found out that UNRA as an institution was not necessary very good at communicating. Despite the many achievements they had, they were only known within the circles of UNRA, and the rest of the country did not know what was taking place in here.
For an organisation that benefi ts from the treasury using taxpayers money, it is incumbent upon that institution to report back on the gains recorded. And the reforms of the last three years have been aimed at addressing these challenges, notably the lack of systems, processes, stakeholder engagement and communication among others.
Reports of shoddy work have been part and parcel of UNRA and this has many times resulted into double spending as a result of roads being washed away, what are you doing to curb this problem?
Much of the reported shoddy work is a result of not having the right contractor on the job or perhaps weak supervision on our part. And what we are doing internally is to build on the supervision capacity of our team and accountability as well as reporting.
We are currently employing supervision teams as opposed to individual supervisors, when we are going to supervise a project; we go as team to ensure that what we agreed with the contractor in the agreement is complied with.
Whether it is the environmental, civil engineering or social safeguards, when the team goes out with its multi-skills, they do a holistic assessment of the performance rather than leaving it to one individual.
On the other side of the contractors, the quality of work is a refl ection of who is doing the work; we are therefore more careful and strict when it comes to procurement, that when we are doing the evaluation, we follow the criteria we put out for bidding. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY
Regional authorities to blacklist bogus contractors
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is spear heading a move to set up a regional body that brings together all roads authorities in the region. The officials recently met for the first time under their umbrella, the Eastern Africa Regional Roads Authorities (EARRA). The goal of the body is to improve the road networks in the region. The meeting was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel, recently. During the meeting, the heads of road authorities in the region expressed their disgust over fraudulent contractors and pledged to adopt a regional approach to blacklist them and deny them jobs to protect the region.
The inaugural summit of EARRA put signature to a Memorandum of Understanding, establishing a forum through which the roads bodies of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda will collaborate on matters of mutual interest.
UNRA executive director Allen Kagina, said bogus contractors were actively eyeing road tenders in the region.
“We want to know from each other how a contractor works. Some contractors threaten that if they do not get contracts here they will go to a neighouring country like Ethiopia or Kenya.
We want to know whether they actually go there. We want to be secure when we award contracts, so that we do not lose money,” Kagina said. Kagina noted that tarmacked roads boost economic activities and education as school children can get to school easily.
She said UNRA wants to pave 1,000km of roads a year, up from the current 180km per year. She said this dream will come to pass if more funds are availed to quickly reduce the backlog of unpaved roads.
Kagina said Uganda has 20,544km of national roads, of which 6,027km (30%) will be paved to bitumen standard by the end of 2018, while the rest are gravel.
EARRA is similar to the Association of Southern Africa National Road Agencies that has been key in doing research and driving formation of road networks in the South of Africa.
The state minister for transport, Henry Bagiire, who opened the meeting, noted that the collaboration between heads of national roads authorities would help eliminate fraudulent contractors in the region. CLICK HERE FOR MORE O THIS STORY
UNRA enhances operation of weighbridges to protect roads
The operationalisation of the 2017 Vehicle Load Regulations with its deterrent penalties is beginning to bear fruit by forcing transit cargo transporters to adhere to the maximum permissible weight for specified categories of vehicles.
This was revealed by Reuben Tumwebaze, the Uganda National Roads Authority’s (UNRA) head of road infrastructure protection and safety. Before the enactment of regulations, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) was relying on the 1998 Traffic and Road Safety regulation whcih offered light penalties that were instead fueling the vice, thereby reducing the lifespan of national roads which are expensive to rehabilitate.
To address the challenges at hand, Tumwebaze said the process to procure modern and automated weighbridges is ongoing to reduce human interface at the facilities when compromise and bribery has been reported. “The manually controlled weighbridges are subject to corruption because our staff can be compromised. Such practices will soon be history with the high speed weigh in motion scales,” he said.
Automated weighbridges also referred to as ‘High-speed weighin- motion scales’ are placed in the middle of the roads with sensors connected to traffic lights that directs where a vehicles is to go based on its load.
Trucks with suspected gross weight or axel overload are directed to a verification place where they are further scrutinised for the exact excess load and an assessment for the possible penalties while those with permissible weight are cleared by green light to proceed without stopping.
When a vehicle has axel load imbalances and the gross weight is fine, their owners are given chance to re-arrange the cargo on to the respective axels before being cleared to go.
Those with both gross weight and axel load overload are required to pay instant penalties based on the gross overload later the excess cargo is offloaded on to another truck before proceeding with the journey. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY
[asset_library_tag 58e996c0-874a-4dc4-b5d3-20abf119142a>ENERGO UGANDA CO LTD
[asset_library_tag 6d398993-55c7-4baa-93db-e3e5c83c1f0c,UGANDA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUILDING AND CIVIL ENGINEERING CONTRACTORS (UNABCEC)]