Maintain toll rules on expressway

Motorists queue at Kajjansi Toll Plaza on the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway to pay the road user fees on January 13, 2022. PHOTO/JOSEPH KIGGUNDU

What you need to know:

  • There are, of course, remaining challenges for the project to work well like the high toll fees which many would-be users cannot afford because of the prevailing economic challenges, installing street lights, and dealing with the traffic jam at the various exits on the road. Some individuals and groups have requested to be exempted from paying the toll.

Government should maintain current position on the Kampala- Entebbe Expressway by not amending the rules to exempt more people. It is almost a month since the government started implementing the toll on the road with reports of positive revenue generation, increased security and better maintenance.

There are, of course, remaining challenges for the project to work well like the high toll fees which many would-be users cannot afford because of the prevailing economic challenges, installing street lights, and dealing with the traffic jam at the various exits on the road. Some individuals and groups have requested to be exempted from paying the toll.

For example, there has been a push by the police and military to be exempted, health workers have made similar calls through the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), the umbrella body for doctors and other medical workers, which wants the toll fees for their members waived to ease their movement in attending emergencies.

The Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala, recently told Parliament that he was receiving incessant requests from different government officials to have their toll fees for the travel via the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway waived.

Currently, only the presidential motorcade, ambulances and fire trucks are allowed to ply the expressway minus remitting any money at the toll gates. There are also calls to amend the regulations to exempt the Vice President, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker and other senior officials.

This, we believe, will open the Pandora’s box. We believe that government should heed the wisdom of the framers of the law and maintain the current regulations on who should pay.

How will the public be expected to contribute to repaying back the loan through this toll if the government officials responsible for designing and enforcing the same policy do not want to pay? If there are challenges to pay for the police and the military handling emergencies and other special duties, then they should incorporate the fees in their respective budgets.

The same applies to other government departments. Former House Speaker and current 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga has counselled on the same.

“When the 10th Parliament enacted that law”, she tweeted following reports of people demanding to be exempted, “we did not see the need to exempt government officials since there is an alternative road which is free.”

We strongly urge the responsible government agencies not to mess up this initiative by helping some officials cut corners. We all have a duty to contribute to the development of our country.

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