Transport posts few milestones
Posted Thursday, January 3 2013 at 02:00
Results-oriented. 2012 was a fairly good year for road and water transport sectors but bad for the rail and air sections.
The hope of Ugandans having good infrastructure has continued diminishing with little implemented so far.
In the year 2012, the sector registered little physical progress. Potholes, dust, mud-filled roads whenever it rains, floods, poor drainage systems, poor rail, limited water transport equipment and a small airport still characterise the sector.
The roads sub-sector which has taken a huge portion of the budget over the last four years is flawed by many problems that have seen road carnage increase.
In the 2012/13 budget, the Works and Transport sector being the second most funded sector took a whopping Shs1.6 trillion out of the Shs11.1 trillion 2012/13 resource envelope.
The highlight of road transport in 2012 was the inauguration of the construction of the $476 million (Shs1.19 trillion) Entebbe-Kampala highway that will link the town of Entebbe in Wakiso district to Kampala.
Funded by the governments of Uganda and China, it will be completed in 2017.
Other on-going rehabilitation activities for road transport include constructions on Kabale-Kisoro highway, Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara road, northern corridor highway, Malaba-Bugiri-Jinja Kamuli, Nyakairiti Kazo and Kamwenge road, Arua-Vura-Koboko road.
Also Gulu-Atyak-Nimule road, Kagumba-Ishaka road and rehabilitation and reconstructions of two major projects- Kagamba-Ishaka and Moroto Nakapiripiriti roads are underway.
All these projects have remained incomplete even though the ministry of works planned to have many of them ready before the end of the year.
Mr Dan Alinange, the public relations manager of Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA), said the delays were caused by a combination of slow construction, weather effects and late funding.
Managed by the Rift Valley Railways (RVR), Uganda’s railway transport underperformed. While, RVR embarked on several projects to rehabilitate the current dilapidated Uganda-Kenya line in 2012, much is still needed.
Projects undertaken last year include: repairing wagons, replacing spoilt culverts and renovating the Tororo-Pakwach line.
Recently, Mr Brown Ondego, the RVR Group chief executive officer, now vice chairman, said they planned to reduce trains transitional time between Mombasa and Kampala from 21 days to seven days.
He said: “We are in advanced stages of renovating the railway network. We expect to finish all the work and installations by the end of November .”
He added: “After this, we shall be able to run bigger train locomotives all the way from Mombasa to Jinja.”
But this promise is still pending.
The government’s plans to construct another railway from Tanzania are still on paper. While neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Tanzania invested in train services for public transport to fight traffic, Uganda did nothing.
Eng Abraham Byandala, the minister of works and transport, told this newspaper that the government has no plans for commuter train services.
He said: “Our thinking is not on commuter trains but ‘rapid bus systems.’ We will invest in trains for cargo transportation not passengers.”
While water transport equally underperformed due to limited investments, a few positives were registered.
MV Kaawa returned to work after four years, Kalangala finally got a new ferry-MV Pearl while government put aside Shs10 billion to repair MV Pamba. On completion, Pamba will complement MV Kaawa and Kabalega. Several private players also launched ferries to ply different routes.
2012 was a bad year for air transport globally. Reports by International Airlines Transporters Association (IATA) have tagged the declining air traffic worldwide to growing fuel prices; thus, higher tickets fares versus declining disposable incomes.
Uganda recorded the same trend of decline in airline activities. Unlike 2011, when about four airlines launched operations at Entebbe airport, in 2012, only one NasAir, an Eritrea based carrier, launched.
Works to expand Entebbe airport that were planned to kick off late last year were pushed to this year as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) looks for more land and funds to implement this project.
The plans to revive the national airline (Uganda Airline) which Eng Byandala announced last year are underway.
The airline became defunct due to lack of enough capitalisation. Information from the ministry of works reveals that a paper on reviving the airline Has already been presented to Parliament and will be debated this year.