Kabale- The construction of the Kabale-Kisoro-Kyanika-Bunagana Road has spurred economic and social growth in western Uganda.
The new road has boosted trade between Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kabale District chairperson Patrick Keihwa says the road has made travelling and transportation of goods easier.
“Many trading centres and markets have emerged because of this newly-constructed road. It takes about two hours to travel from Kabale to Kisoro unlike in the past when people took over six hours to cover the same distance.
Health service delivery has tremendously improved because referred patients from health centres along this road are easily and comfortably transport to hospitals in Kabale town,” Mr Keihwa says.
The construction of Kabale-Kisoro-Kyanika-Bunagana Road started in September 2007 and was completed in 2012. The 100km road was constructed by SBI International at a cost of Shs154 billion.
Mr Keihwa says due to the construction of the road, hydro power was extended from Kabale Town to Kisoro District.
He adds that the new road has boosted tourism in Kigezi sub-region and many tourists use the new road to travel to Bwindi and Mghahinga national parks to see the famous mountain gorillas and other animals.
He, however, says several accidents have occurred on the new road due to speeding by motorists.
“There is need for the construction of several humps along these sharp corners, many of which exist on steep slopping hills along this road, to check the excited drivers who speed, causing death through reckless driving,” Mr Keihwa says.
Mr Bonefasi Munyaruganda, an irish potato farmer in Muko Sub-county, Kabale, where the road passes, says it has made transportation of his produce to the market easier.
He says unlike in the past, when he was compelled to transport his produce on a dilapidated road for 50km to Kabale Town, today traders come up to his home in search of produce.
“Traders from Kampala, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo find me at home to buy my produce. The construction of this road has also led an increase in price of Irish potatoes from Shs30,000 in the past to Shs90,000 currently. Cabbages have increased from Shs100 to Shs600, sorghum from Shs600 to Shs1500 per kg. The prices have increased because there is competition for our produce by several traders, some of whom currently travel from South Sudan,” Mr Munyaruganda says.
Mr Rogers Mugabi, a businessman, says that timber trade and iron ore mining have been boosted by the new road.
He adds that timber from the Hamurwa Sub-county in Kabale and the neighbouring Kanungu District is now easily accessible by traders from Kampala and Rwanda.
“Me and my colleagues no longer spend money to hire timber stores in Kabale Town because the timber dealers find us at our village homes. The same thing applies to the iron ore dealers. I am happy that people in our villages earn some money by selling some of their agricultural products to truck drivers that either come to load timber or iron ore,” Mr Mugabi says.
Mr Musafiri Neza, who is involved in the transportation business on the Kabale-Kisoro-Kyanika-Bunagana road, says its construction has led to reduction in the time spent travelling. He adds that he now spends less on repairing his vehicle, unlike in the past when it would always break down due to the deplorable state of the road.
“It was a must to visit the garage every time one arrives in Kabale or in Kisoro towns after using the Kabale-Kisoro road but now it can take two or three months,” Mr Neza says.
He says the new road has attracted several bus companies, adding that at least 10 buses ply the Kampala-Kisoro route everyday. Mr Neza says Rwandans and Congolese traders are the main passengers.
Hundreds of freight trucks that used to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda through the Katuna border town are now using the newly-constructed road because it is nearer and smoother.
The Kabale District Council Speaker, Mr Pastoli Twinomuhangi, says a filling station has been established in Muko Sub-county where local residents can get paraffin to light their houses, especially those who cannot afford electricity.
He says more than 10 daily markets and several trading centres have come up because of the construction of the road.
“We appreciate the construction of this road but there is need to tarmac the feeder roads that connect to the existing national parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga to make tourists more comfortable. I am very sure that the people where this newly-constructed road passes will never be as poor as they were before its construction,” Mr Twinomuhangi says.
A livestock trader, Mr Edward Mutungi, says many traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo now come to Uganda livestock markets at Karukara and Rubare in Kabale and Ntungamo districts because of the excellent road network.
The Kisoro District Information Officer, Mr Alfred Karemera, says the construction of the Kabale-Kisoro road empowered local residents financially through compensations, especially those whose land and properties were destroyed. He says many of the beneficiaries have opened small scale businesses.
“Many daily markets for agricultural products have emerged after the construction of this road. Daily Markets are evident at Gasheregyenyi, Kanaba, Kamagyeza, Nyiragakoro, Nyakande Chanika and Bunagana trading centres.
The construction of this road has also attracted traders from northern parts of Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo despite the existing armed conflicts. Kisoro Town itself has been able to develop by attracting investors that come to put up good buildings for both commercial and residential purposes,” Mr Karemera says.
The regional police commander for Kigezi sub-region, Ms Olivia Wawire, says night and day police patrols are conducted to check highway robbers.
“Security is tight enough to crack down on highway robbers that may target the businessmen using this road,” Ms Wawire said.
The Uganda National Roads Authority communications manager, Mr Dan Allinange, cautions people against stealing road signs.
Several metallic road signs have been removed from the new road by suspected scrap metal dealers.
“Their main purpose is to guide road users, especially drivers to drive with care. We cannot put humps everywhere please. The local leaders should sensitise the local people on the usefulness of road signs instead of demanding for humps,” Mr Allinange says.
The Kabale-Kisoro-Bunagana Road (88.520km) is located in the south-western corner of Uganda in the districts of Kabale and Kisoro. It starts at Kabale Town, connects to Kisoro Town and onwards to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo at Bunagana. Southern diversion, a road section of 5.380km length, was included on the southern side of the airstrip at Kisoro.
Kyanika link, a spur of 6.302Km length, connects the Southern diversion at Kisoro to the border with Rwanda at Kyanika. The complete road network effectively connects Uganda to DRC and Rwanda.