Kampala. The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is in talks with the World Bank to resume funding for construction of key road projects in the oil sub-region and eastern Uganda respectively.
The UNRA executive director, Ms Allen Kagina, told Sunday Monitor in an interview that Shs364b for construction of the 100km Kyenjojo-Kabwoya road under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (ARSDP) was withdrawn by the bank following reports of Chinese contractors preying on minor girls on another road project.
Funding for the 340km Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini stretch under the North Eastern Road-Corridor Asset Management Project (NERAMP) was also withdrawn.
“The bank said they were not convinced that we could handle supervision on any of the projects they fund,” Ms Kagina said. “Funding for these projects will remain suspended until we have satisfied the conditions, but we are working to ensure that it is coming back.”
The World Bank president, Mr Jim Yong Kim, announcing the suspension of funds on Ugandan projects last year, indicated that preliminary evaluations had found serious failures by the Bank and government on “supervision” and there was no need to wait for another probe to decide cancellation of the funding.
This came after the bank had announced another withdrawal of Shs874b ($265m) for construction of roads under the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project (TSDP) over “serious allegations of sexual misconduct and poor project performance” by the contractors on the 66.2km Kamwenge-Fort Portal road.
The contractor, state-owned Chinese Railway Seventh Group (CRSG), was implicated by a local NGO in sexually harassing minor girls in the project area.
The cost for Kamwenge-Fort Portal road is Shs120b, but Ms Kagina, told this newspaper that after reaching a verdict that funding for this project was not coming back, they realigned their budget to ensure continuity.
“I went several times to Kamwenge to the most affected area called Bigodi and held discussions with the affected community, and also with the ministries of Works and Finance,” she said.
Majority of Uganda’s road projects are funded by development partners such as the African Development Bank and EU, among others.