Newly-constructed roads develop cracks

Wednesday January 15 2020

In need. A section of Mugisu Hill in Industrial

In need. A section of Mugisu Hill in Industrial Division, Mbale Municipality, which has sunk in. PHOTO BY YAHUD KITUNZI 

By YAHUDU KITUNZI

Road experts and residents in Mbale District have expressed disappointment with the leadership of Mbale Municipal Council following reports of emerging cracks on the newly constructed roads.

The roads were constructed under Uganda Support to Municipality Infrastructure Development (USMID) programme with funding from World Bank at a cost of Shs26 billion.

They are Republic Street, Pallisa, Nabuyonga Rise, and Mugisu Hill roads. They were commissioned by President Museveni on July 4, last year.

Sections of the roads which have already developed defects include Mugisu Hill Road and Nabuyonga Rise.

The completion of the roads was done by Zong Mei, a Chinese Company that was awarded the contract after the municipal authorities terminated the contract of Plinth Technical Services Company Ltd in 2015, after years of failure to complete construction.

Mr Emmanuel T Ojuka, the Municipal Infrastructure Development specialist, on Monday said the programme support team (PST) in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has also written to Mbale Town Clerk about the premature development of defects on the said.

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“Following asphalt pavement material test, investigations carried out by the Ministry of Works and Transport’s central materials laboratory, to investigate premature pavement deterioration along sections of Mugisu Hill Road and Nabuyonga Rise in Mbale, the resulting report recommended deep patching of the road pavements at the affected sections by replacing the sub-base, base and finish courses,” the January 3 email, reads in part.

He added that Mbale municipal officials should update the ministry on the plans to address the defects as soon as possible. However, Mr Darlington Sakwa, an expert on roads, said the roads are allegedly getting damaged due to poor workmanship and poor supervision by concerned authorities, especially regarding the quality of the materials used.

“This is a sign of poor workmanship and supervision to ensure the quality of the material used in the construction,” he said.

Mr Sakwa explained that the poorly constructed roads show failure much earlier than the expected life-spans.

“For example, a poorly designed and constructed road meant to last five years can start to breakdown within a year,” Mr Sakwa, said.

USMID roads were supposed to be designed and constructed to last for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, they have not lasted for a year.

Mr Sakwa said drainage failure leads roads and bridges to be washed away during heavy rain.

“In properly written contracts, there is a defects liability period where the contractor is expected to fix the defects at their own cost. They can even face penalties beyond fixing the failures,” he said.

He blamed shoddy works on corruption, poor supervision by the project consultants and leaders, and inexperienced contractors, among others.

Mr Tom Mbidde, another road expert, said for better roadworks, there is need to closely supervise the type of materials being used and whether the mixture is up to date, adding that this explains why parts of the road are getting eroded.

“Honestly, how do you construct a road whose life-span is 50 years and it begins getting cracks before it evens makes a year? This is wastage of taxpayers money,” Mr Mbidde said.

Mr Moses Watuwa, a resident, said Mbale Municipal Council leadership is solely to blame due to poor supervision, coupled with corruption tendencies.

A section of councillors on the other hand accused the municipal engineer Edison Kasaata of absenteeism and incompetence. When contacted, Mr Kasaata declined to comment on the matter.

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