The 2019 road user satisfaction survey conducted by Uganda Road Fund (URF) indicates that more road users are satisfied with the country’s road network this year compared to last year.
“The percentage of respondents who were satisfied with their experience on Uganda’s road network more than doubled to 57 per cent from 27.2 per cent in 2017 with most road users attributing their improved satisfaction to road rehabilitation/reconstruction, maintenance and widening (for national and city roads),” Engineer Micheal Odongo, the executive director URF, said while releasing the findings last month.
Uganda Road Fund is in charge of ensuring roads are well maintained through different agencies operating in the country such as Uganda National Roads Authority(UNRA), Kampala City Council Authority(KCCA) among others.
The survey was conducted among 2,791 respondents drawn from seven road user groups, including pedestrians, passengers; cyclists; motorcyclists; motorcar drivers; taxi/bus drivers; and truck drivers on both paved and unpaved roads spread across the different regions of the country.
The most satisfied road users were passengers with 63.7 per cent of them reporting that they were satisfied with their experience followed by cyclists.
Pedestrian, drivers of public service vehicles and motorcyclists reported the lowest percentage of satisfied road users as only 55 per cent of road users from each of these groups reported that they were satisfied with the road network.
While 2019 bore increased appreciation for the country’s road network, 43 per cent of the road users are dissatisfied especially because of narrow roads.
“These attributed their dissatisfaction mostly to narrow roads (26 per cent), presence of potholes (19 per cent), inadequate road maintenance (16 per cent), dust (12 per cent) and poor drainage (9.7 per cent),” he illuminated.
To maintain roads, URF currently depends on quarterly disbursements of money from the finance ministry which the engineer shunned saying delayed payments by the ministry breed inefficiency.
“You cannot put trillions in building roads and only put peanuts in maintaining them,” he said.
He strongly urged the ministry to prioritise road maintenance if road user satisfaction is to be achieved.
Mr Odongo was reiterated by a speech by Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga who called upon the Finance Ministry to table before Parliament a Bill to give URF autonomy over its funds.
“The Road Fund is still reliant on quarterly disbursements from the Consolidated Fund rather than the road user charges which were meant to be collected to capitalise the URF in undertaking its mandate. I am told that this has been stifled by the need to amend the Uganda Revenue Authority Act to provide for monthly transfers of collections by URA to the Road Fund. I request the Minister of Finance to promptly bring this bill to Parliament,” she advised.
In his speech delivered by State Minister for Works Katumba Wamala, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija acknowledged the need for a balance between road construction and maintenance.
He, however, believes the challenge at hand is lack of proper planning for utilisation of resources especially by implementing agencies prompting the return of funds to the treasury.
Earlier this year, UNRA returned Shs3b to the treasury on grounds that it failed to recruit new staff during the 2018/19 financial year.