Stalled Lubigi project leaves traffic in a mess

Monday February 17 2020

Namungoona flyover on the Northern Bypass in K

Namungoona flyover on the Northern Bypass in Kampala that is under construction. Motorists face traffic jam on the lower end of the interchange at Lubigi. PHOTO BY MICHEAL KAKUMIRIZI 

By AMOS NGWOMOYA

Motorists plying Hoima Road and the Northern Bypass are in a traffic dilemma following the stalled construction of the Lubigi interchange road project.

They say whereas the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) had pledged to open both Sentema and Lubigi interchanges by December last year, only Sentema has been completed.

Apparently, motorists coming from Wakiso and Nansana road cannot access Bwaise through the Northern Bypass because the lower stretch of the interchange is blocked due to the ongoing works.

Similarly, motorists from Bwaise and Kasubi heading to Nansana and Wakiso have to drive for about 1km to the Masanafu interchange and then turn to the right in order to connect to the other stretch of the bypass before they connect back to Hoima Road.

Motorists from Busega heading to Bwaise and vice versa can use the upper stretch of the interchange because it has been completed.
The traffic situation on the lower stretch of the interchange becomes worse during rush hours as motorists heading to town have to scramble for the narrow Namungoona-Kasubi road, causing traffic gridlock.

Motorists told Daily Monitor at the weekend that the new changes at the interchange have affected their operations because they are stuck in traffic jam for many hours.
“When you close part of the Northern Bypass, you literally cut off the transport chain because the Namungoona-Kasubi stretch on Hoima Road cannot accommodate the number of vehicles from Nansana and Wakiso,” Mr Samson Kasujja, a taxi driver, said.

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“We are also wondering why construction works on the lower stretch of this interchange have taken long to be completed,” he added.
Mr Kasujja noted that before the other stretch of the bypass was closed, it was easy for them to dodge the heavy traffic in Kasubi by driving to Bwaise and later connect to Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road.

Motorists also decried the absence of traffic officers on Namungoona-Kasubi stretch to regulate traffic flow. They say this has worsened the situation as errant motorists drive recklessly, causing a traffic stalemate. Ms Sarah Naluyima, who stays in Nansana and works in the city centre, said: “You have to board a taxi by 5:30am if you don’t want to sit in traffic jam. But if you set off at 6am or 6:30am, you can even reach town at 9am. The situation even gets worse when it rains.”

Alternative routes
Motorists coming from the city centre and want to avoid the thick traffic at Lubigi have resorted to using Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road, driving through Bwaise to Nabweru to connect to Nansana or Wakiso.

Similarly, motorists from Wakiso and Nansana too can, instead of driving through Namungoona-Kasubi, use Nabweru Road up to Bwaise and then connect either to Bombo Road or Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road. The Unra media manager, Mr Allan Ssempebwa Kyobe, explained that the construction works at the interchange stalled partly due to bad weather but said the works are now progressing.

“We understand the frustration of the road users around that vital interchange. The contractor is doing his best to complete and hand over this area by March 31,” he said in a text message.

The Masanafu and Lubigi interchanges are part of the capacity enhancement of Kampala Northern Bypass project, which is being undertaken by Monta-engil, a Portuguese construction company.

The entire project will cost Shs448b and is expected to be completed by 2021. According to the plan, other interchanges will be built at Kalerwe and Kisaasi roundabouts to ease traffic flow.

The Sentema interchange connects both Masanafu and Sentema roads to the major bypass while the Lubigi interchange also connects Hoima Road to the bypass.

Monta-engil’s structural engineer Carlos Graca could not be reached for a comment.

Looking back
The construction of the second phase of the Kampala-Northern Bypass was flagged off in February 2015. The completion date, which was initially set for 2017, has now been pushed to July 2021. According to the plan of the expansion, it was meant to add an additional carriageway, construction of three new footbridges at Kyebando, Ntinda and Naalya.

It also laid out plans to replace existing roundabouts with interchanges at Kalerwe, Busega, Naalya-Ntinda, Bukoto-Kisaasi and Namungoona/Lubigi.
angwomoya@ug.nationmedia.com

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