Protesters and other groups of people who destroy roads through burning tyres or any other form will be liable for imprisonment not exceeding five years according to the Roads Act 2019.
The Roads Act 2019 was assented to by President Museveni in September, repealing the Roads Act, cap 350 of 1949 and the Access to roads Act, cap 350 of 1969.
Speaking at the launch of the new law, the State Minister for Works, Gen.Katumba Wamala said that in the past many people were destroying roads, a thing he said has cost a lot of money to government in repairs.
“The roads are so expensive to construct and we cannot allow people spoil them. I call upon the public to familiarize with this law because it will affect their day to day usage of the road,”Katumba said.
“At every demonstration, you see people burning tyres yet this affects the life span of the road. With the new law, the people arrested will not go scot-free. There is a penalty for it.”
A number of people have in the past been burning tyres during protests, as one of the ways to show discontent but many others have also been practicing the same as one of the festivities to mark the New Year ’s Day celebrations but according to the new law, this will now be criminal.
Section 63 of the Roads Act 2019 says that a person who places or burns on a public road, any substance that can cause damage the public road, bridge, ferry or pontoon commits an offence.
The law adds that on conviction, the offender is liable to a fine not exceeding 120 currency points(shs2.4 million) or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.
The new law also criminalises destruction of pavements, spilling oil on public roads, causing water and sewage to spill onto public roads.
Speaking about the new law, the State Minister for Works said there was need to put in place a new law to replace the previous ones that he described as archaic.
“They had become outdates and no longer effective to planning and maintenance of the road network. Over the years, there has been tremendous increase in the size of the road network and traffic volumes. In addition, innovative technologies have been introduced and implemented in the road sector while the institutional framework for road management has changed.” he said.
“The Road Act 2019 therefore takes a holistic approach to the regulation of the planning, designing, construction and maintenance of roads.”