The Japanese government yesterday offered Uganda Shs2.9b for a major infrastructure upgrade project expected to ease vehicular traffic flow and reduce snarl-ups in the capital.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Mr Kazuhiko Koshikawa, the vice president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), inked the grant agreement to bankroll installation of traffic light signals at 30 city road intersections.
The works will commence in October, officials said.
“This means that at least four million people in Uganda will benefit from the project,” Mr Koshikawa said in reference to the city’s estimated day-time population.
He added: “Most importantly, the project will reduce severe traffic congestion, which is one of the urgent issues of the city as laid out in the National Development Plan.”
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) estimates that commuters in the city lose 24,000 man-hours each day due to traffic jams. A man-hour is the amount of work performed by the average worker in one hour.
Studies by City Hall, police and experts attribute the snarls-ups to narrow roads, reckless driving, limited traffic light-controlled junctions and vehicles in poor mechanical condition.
With traffic flow at many busy intersections manually directed by police officers, a lapse in judgment that results in delay to release motorists on one road can trigger build-up of vehicles and choke movement on adjoining routes.
KCCA, working with other institutions and development partners, have been automating traffic flow at intersections.
The ongoing works are being funded by the World Bank under the second phase of Kampala Infrastructural and Institutional Development Project (KIIDP-2).
The five-year project involves widening of city roads, converting single roads into dual carriageways, upgrading gravel roads to bitumen, installing traffic signals at junctions, designing and construction of drainage channels.
Under KIIDP-2, the Kampala multi-model urban transport master plan will also be updated. The project lapses in 2020.
At yesterday’s grant agreement signing ceremony, Mr Koshikawa said their offer was inspired by the desire to rid Kampala of traffic jams and that it underscores the great bilateral and diplomatic relations between Uganda and Japan spanning 50 years.
Finance Minister Kasaija committed that the project will be conducted in a transparent and accountable manner.
“We will furnish the government of Japan with relevant information and data concerning the progress of the implementation of the project through regular consultation with your government during the implementation period,” he said.
Japan’s donation imprints its spreading signature on key infrastructure and vocational skills development projects in the country, and follows Tokyo’s funding of the iconic cable-stayed Source of the Nile Bridge commissioned last September.
KCCA will first have to prepare detailed designs before works for the latest Shs2.9b traffic lights installation project starts.
Eng Andrew Kitaka, the KCCA acting executive director, said they initially planned to install traffic lights at only seven junctions but later varied it to thirty which the Japanese government approved.
Traffic lights at Jinja Road, Wandegeya, Nateete, and Kibuye were installed 20 years ago, he noted, saying they now require to be complemented to achieve better traffic flow and control.
Most jam-prone intersections in the Central Business District have been earmarked for upgrade.
Asked why KCCA was only focused on signalising junctions instead of also devising other means to undercut traffic jam like construction of flyovers, Mr Kitaka said the current KCCA resource envelop can’t meet the high overhead cost for flyovers.
How city traffic is controlled on computer
Unveiled traffic control. Last year, KCCA unveiled a pilot traffic control centre to monitor and manage traffic in the city.
The traffic control centre also monitors field radio communication among traffic wardens, ambulance and enforcement staff and security personnel.
The centre, currently operational, monitors traffic at 12 signalised city road junctions through surveillance cameras. The junctions include Kabira 1, Kabira 2, Kira Road Police Station, Fairway, Bwaise, Junjju, Makerere Main Gate and Gaddafi Road.
Others are at Kyadondo Road, Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road, Nakulabye junction and Bukesa next to Mengo Senior Secondary School on Hoima Road.
Survey. According to the Travel Habit Survey made during the compilation of the May 2018 Multi-model Urban Transport Master plan report, pedestrians account for 46 per cent of city road users; taxis (22 per cent), boda bodas (17 per cent), and cars 13 per cent. The researchers categorised the remaining two per cent users as “others”.
The World Bank, in its September 2017 report, noted that Kampala’s roads were constructed in the 1960s for only 100,000 vehicles per day, which has now more than doubled.
Statistics from KCCA’s directorate of engineering and technical services show that only 500 out of the 2,100-kilometre road network is paved.
Mr Jacob Byamukama, the KCCA’s deputy director for roads management, told Daily Monitor last month that a new Multi-model Urban Transport master plan for Greater Kampala Metropolitan area has been developed to mitigate the city’s traffic jams.
Mr Byamukama says that the plan is in line with the Kampala physical Development Plan (KPDP), which aims at creating a well-organised and modern urban metropolitan transport system.
Prospect. Under the plan, Mr Byamukama says, KCCA will construct and operate a robust Mass Rapid System with buses, light rail transit and cable cars by 2040. Former KCCA Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, unveiled the ambitious cable car option for city dwellers but the plan remained wet in the wings.
The revised blue-print, which City Hall is yet to launch, focuses on more environmentally friendly transport system to promote mobility and sustainability.
Once implemented, KCCA says this new transport infrastructure will encourage commuters to use sustainable transport modes such as walking, cycling, and buses.
The master plan is part of the second phase of the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructural Development Project (KIIDP).
Funding. KIIDP-2 is a five-year $184m (Shs678b) project funded by the World Bank and the government of Uganda. The project is being implemented by KCCA.
The master plan that was drawn by ROM Transportation Engineering, Cambridge Systematics and TNM consultancies was undertaken between July 2016 and May 2018 following earlier recommendations by World Bank to have a robust and environmentally friendly mass transport system.