Heavy Rains Damage Roads and Bridges in Uganda, Government Scrambles for Funds

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Heavy Rains Damage Roads and Bridges in Uganda, Government Scrambles for Funds
A farmer struggles to navigate a flooded section of the road to deliver produce to the market

Heavy downpours across Uganda have caused widespread damage to roads and bridges, prompting the Ministry of Works to demand a rapid assessment from district engineers.

Urgent Reports Needed

State Minister for Works, Musa Ecweru, directed district engineers to submit comprehensive reports on the state of roads and bridges by May 14th, 2024. This information will be used to prioritize repairs and secure additional funding through a supplementary budget.

Minister Acknowledges Challenges

Ecweru highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, "We want to see first of all, how many bridges have been washed away... and then categorize them between those that are very critical and those that can wait for adequate resources."

The Minister also acknowledged the financial constraints, considering Uganda's extensive road network - 6133 km of paved roads and 22,000 km of gravel roads. He suggested that districts utilize existing equipment like graders and excavators for immediate repairs, particularly on gravel roads.

Adapting Plans and Addressing Long-Term Needs

Ecweru emphasized the need for districts to revise their work plans, considering the unexpected damage. He suggested reallocating previously allocated one billion Ugandan shillings to prioritize road repairs.

The Minister recognized the ongoing issue of underfunded road maintenance and acknowledged several ageing bridges in need of replacement. Feasibility studies have been conducted for bridges like Echwera Bridge in Mitoma and Notome Bridge in Karamoja, but repairs hinge on securing funding.

A Multifaceted Challenge

While the government seeks resources for construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation, Ecweru also highlighted the concern of road usage by local communities. Practices like water silting are believed to contribute to road degradation and shorten their lifespan.

Looking Ahead

The Ugandan government faces a complex challenge in repairing damaged infrastructure and ensuring its long-term sustainability. Addressing immediate needs through rapid assessment and funding allocation will be crucial, while also considering preventative measures to protect roads from future damage.

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