MPs threaten to protest over Mbale-Tirinyi road
Legislators from Bugisu, Busoga and Teso sub-regions have threatened mass protests next week over the poor state of the Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale road in Eastern Uganda.While addressing the media at parliament this morning, angry MPs said government’s delay in rehabilitating the road over the last four years has caused untold suffering, including fatal accidents to road users.Led by John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya), over 15 legislators expressed bitterness with Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) for failure to get a contractor to complete the road, which is also a major connection route to Bugisu, Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions. Budaka Woman MP Pamela Kamugo (R) was reduced to tears during a press conference at parliament this morning“The road would take us only one hour from Nakalama to Mbale but because of the soil heaps and numerous humps, you now take more than three hours. It has become an accident-prone road now,” Nambeshe said. “This is a man-made disaster and a deliberate move by powers that be. There is no value for money for the Shs 73 billion sunk into this project.”Silas Aogon (Kumi municipality) lamented that for the last three months, no company, including Unra, has been on site to work on the road, an indication of laxity and complacency on the part of the roads authority.“We need something to be done by Monday [next week] lest we rise on our feet. If we have to go to Tirinyi and camp there, we shall do it. The road must be fixed. Who is responsible? We need to find this person. If you have failed, get out of the office,” Aogon said.Paul Akamba (Busiki) said accidents have increased in recent months because of the state of the road. He cited an accident in April where one person died and several others sustained injuries after a commuter taxi was swept away by a heavy downpour.“Is it the intention of government that the road should remain there as a death trap such that the population should reduce? It is high time government worked on this road. If by Monday there is no work, I will mobilise my constituents to demonstrate,” Akamba said.There was drama when Pamela Kamugo (Budaka Woman) burst into tears while describing the deplorable state of the road.“Budaka is the most affected part. I am losing people every day because of that road. What is Kagina still doing in office? If she cannot do that work, I am here…Why should our people suffer sincerely? Kagina, what is your role? Please fix the road,” Kamugo said amidst tears.David Abala (Ngora) wondered why Kagina has failed to heed the legislators’ fervent calls to explain why the road is still in poor state, after Dott Services was stopped from constructing the road.“All of us will camp in Tirinyi. Even if the IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura, brings enough teargas, we shall be equally equipped with water. We shall not entertain anything from Unra yet they are not dealing with this matter,” Abala implored.When contacted for a comment, Allan Ssempebwa Kyobe, the manager for media relations, public and corporate affairs, in the executive director’s office explained that the project contractor, Dott’s Services, were stopped due to delays on the project as well as shoddy work.
Ssempebwa revealed that Unra is currently in advanced stages of procuring a new contractor to work on the road by beginning of September.“A new contractor is in the offing. In the interim, Unra took over maintenance of the road to ensure that any bad spots are worked on. We have expedited the process of getting a new contractor. We would like to call for patience and calm from the MPs,” Ssempebwa told The Observer by phone.In May this year, Unra terminated the contract of Dott Services to rehabilitate the Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale road. In an April 21 letter, President Museveni instructed government entities not to deal with road construction firm Dott Services on grounds of shoddy work on a road project in Kanungu district.However, on May 29, Museveni rescinded his decision on the advice of the attorney general, William Byaruhanga, stating that he had issued the earlier ban to stem obstructive activities by Dott Services, which threatened the road project in Kanungu district.The impasse threatened to stall several construction projects that government had contracted to Dott Services. Chief among them is the 5.5 megawatt Nyagak III hydropower project, in which Dott Services is one of the three companies contracted under Genmax Nyagak Ltd.The venture is projected to cost $14.5 million (Shs 51.8bn).Other ongoing projects by Dott Services include the construction works on the 4.8 megawatts hydropower project on River Waki in Buliisa as well as the construction of Nakivubo and Kinawataka main sewers.