Globally, the cost of poor roads affects all citizens as it means longer travel hours, more garage & repair days, accidents and diseases such as never-ending flu and cough infections caused by dusty roads among others.
As such, in a move to ensure that Ugandans enjoy improved roads and also as a mitigation strategy for the side effects of poor roads, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Works and Transport is conducting trainings and knowledge sharing workshops for engineers drawn from both the ministry and local authorities such as districts and municipalities.
The most recent of such trainings was conducted in October and early November at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. This training that aimed at Strengthening Road and Bridge Management Capacity in the Road Sub was co-funded by African Development Bank and attended by over 50 engineers.
According to Eng. Hassan Ssentamu – Principal Mountain Elgon Labour Based Training Centre– the training wing of Ministry of Works and Transport, this short course provided an introduction to road asset management and the design and construction of low – cost bridge structures.
“It starts with an overview of the core principles in asset management and low-cost bridge structures and will cover to the appropriate level data requirements, data collection techniques, analytical approaches and interpretation of results or outcomes,” Eng. Hassan Ssentamu highlighted.
The engineers that attended this training were selected from 18 districts including Adjuman, Mbarara, Buikwe, Tororo and Mubende. They were trained on how to use limited budgets to deliver high quality roads and bridges.
One way of achieving this, according Eng. Steven Kitonsa, the Commissioner for Roads and Bridges at Ministry of Works is through the use of local content raw material such as concrete and cement, not the expensive, some times imported steel.
“I am so glad that Eng David Luyimbazi has been able to organize a team with a lot of local content. They have put together this very important training targeting ministry of works engineers and district engineers.” Eng. Steven Kitonsa Commissioner for Roads and Bridges at Ministry of Works said.
He added: “I wish to thank government of Uganda and Ministry of Works and Transport for embracing capacity building. Ordinarily, such a course of this nature would be conducted in Birmingham – UK. It is great that this is happening in Uganda, facilitated by local experts.”
Public pays price for poor maintenance.
Even so, Eng. David Luyimbazi, the CEO Basic Group Uganda who was a key facilitator at the training noted that ‘because the biggest challenge to the ‘transport infrastructure sector’ is limited financing, appropriate utilization of the available resources is key to achieving better roads.
“The major issue affecting the roads sector is financing. Whenever you can’t meet both maintenance and development needs, then you are providing substandard interventions which can’t last the life time that was expected.” Eng. David Luyimbazi said, adding;
“For every dollar held back for maintaining roads, road users pay about 3.5 dollars. If we don’t pay for what is required to keep roads in good conditions, road users than pay in terms of damage to vehicles, congestion and longer travel time.”
According to a recent Uganda Road Fund (URF) survey, 57% of road users that responded to this survey were fairly satisfied with their experience on Uganda’s roads. Nonetheless, the same report revealed that many of the satisfied road users are anxious when using the same roads as they don’t feel safe.