Thursday August 7 2014

Improved transport can develop rural Uganda

By John V. Ahumuza

Effective transport is an essential element of rural poverty reduction. Though transport constitutes road, air, railway and water modes, in Uganda’s context, more than 80 per cent of transport freight is by road. This calls for heavy investment in the sector as a vital tool for development and poverty alleviation.
Transport is crucial for development because it provides accessibility to goods, services, jobs, educational opportunities and economic activities. Without viable transportation, the quality of life does not improve. The effects of poor transport systems in rural Africa, which rely on non-motorised transport in its most basic form, are manifested in a lack of market integration, poor provision of social services, low productivity and low rates of economic activity. Here is how we can overcome this:
• The drafted Rural Transport Policy by the Ministry of Works and Transport should be quickly implemented. Rural road construction should focus on investment in high quality roads.
• Adopt the African Development Bank proposal to free up investment finance resources from the interest of our foreign reserves in the western capitals for infrastructure development and ensure value for money in the transport sector.
• Compensation of landowners by persons seeking to construct an access way to the highway or other national road, and protection of road furniture like signposts. Alternative means of designing road furniture other than metallic ones that seem to attract thieves should be explored.
• Reduce political interference in the sector and the accompanying patronage system and the endemic corruption in the sector must end to ensure transparency.
• Make the budget-making process more transparent, open up involvement and engagement with more stakeholders and ensure budget discipline in its implementation and address the real concerns of the donors and development partners regarding how we use the tax payers’ money.
In summary, improving the transport system in Uganda, especially road transport, is key to national development.

Mr Ahumuza is the coordinator,
Civil Society Coalition on Transport secretariat