The European Union (EU) Delegation in Uganda has questioned the rationale for the recruitment of 1,740 staff by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
Speaking on Thursday during a meeting of UNRA with development partners, Dr Stefan Lock, the first secretary/head of section economic growth of the EU Delegation in Uganda, said the EU is interested in knowing how the increased staff resources would help UNRA improve its standard business processes.
“From the organogram we take that you want to set up a design team within UNRA, which makes sense but it is a bit contrary to the mainstream where organisations tend to outsource such services,” Dr Lock said.
He added: “And, the idea of having a big, internationally competitive design and architectural team comes with a cost. We would want to understand what the rationale is.”
UNRA, which in June fired most of its workers, will increase its personnel from 916 to 1, 740.
Recruitment, which began in December 2015, will be concluded at the end of this month.
The authority decided to increase its staffing to cope with the existing and expected workload.
UNRA executive director, Ms Allen Kagina, says though the road network has increased from 10,000 in 2009 to 20,500, just as the increase in its budgetary allocation, there has not been a commensurate increase in its staffing. Among the professionals it seeks to recruit are engineers to plan and design projects to reduce its reliance on consultants.
UNRA will also increase the personnel in its legal services directorate from one to 30.
“We want to manage our cases ourselves,” Ms Kagina said during the meeting, adding that “Previously, all our cases were given to external lawyers, whose costs and time we could not control.”
Ms Kagina said they do not necessarily need more money for the increased number of staff because they would reallocate their resources from some activities to staffing.
UNRA in June last year, fired more than 850 workers to pave way for the restructuring of the authority.
The retrenchment came against a backdrop of report by the Auditor General, which raised concerns over accountability and governance of UNRA.
According to the Auditor General, these exposed the authority to financial loss as well as poor outputs.
The Inspectorate of Government’s probe, which found UNRA’s then senior managers culpable of causing financial loss, contributed to the retrenchment.
The World Bank Uganda Country manager, Ms Christina Malmberg Calvo, said Uganda’s roads sector, which consumes 14 per cent of Uganda’s Shs24 trillion in the 2015/16 budget, are among the country’s most valuable assets.