Saturday June 28 2014

Heavy rains cut off Karamoja

Travellers struggle to get their stuck vehicles

Travellers struggle to get their stuck vehicles out of the mud on Monday after rains destroyed Nakapiripirit-Mbale road in Okudud and Tabakony villages. PHOTO BY STEVEN ARIONG  

By Steven Ariong

Accessing Karamoja region through Mbale and Nakapiripirit districts has become impossible after heavy rains devastated the roads making them impassable.

This comes a month after government repaired them.
The most affected roads are those on the Moroto-Mbale via Nakapiripirit route because the heavy rains washed away bridges at Okudud, Tabakuny and Ngenge villages.

More than 30 trucks were stuck at Okudud and Tabakony for days this week.
The current poor state of the roads has forced bus operators to abandon the Mbale-Moroto via Nakapiripirit route.

“The road is bad. We have stopped plying that route to protect our buses,” Mr Abdi Shamim, a bus conductor, said recently.
Mr Simon Lokut, a businessman in Nakapiripirit Town, said transporting merchandise from Mbale, Kapchorwa to Nakapiripirit has become difficult due to the high price of hiring trucks to transport the commodities.

“We are forced to pay Shs30,000 per bag of maize flour because drivers fear to drive their vehicles to Karamoja due to the state of the roads. Sometimes all the commodities get damaged or go bad along the way,” he said.
Mr John Lorot, the Nakapiripirit District chairperson, said Karamoja roads become impassable whenever there are heavy rains.

UNRA speaks out
Mr Hassan Ssentamu, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Moroto station engineer, blamed the weather and heavy trucks that operate Nakapiripirit Mbale route for the poor state of the roads.

He said the engineers were doing their best to improve the road but their effort was being undermined by heavy rains and traffic flow.
“It’s not that engineers are not doing their work, that road was recently graded but the volume of water and traffic of marble trucks is too much for the road,” Mr Ssentamu said.

He said UNRA would continue carrying out road maintenance so that travellers can move hassle free.