Kanungu road to cost $700,000 per kilometre

A leaked letter instructing Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to award a Shs 207.8bn contract for construction of Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha-Kanungu road to a Chinese firm has caused a social media uproar with several tweeps questioning the seemingly inflated cost for the project.

In the leaked letter, UNRA executive director Allen Kagina was advised the director of Legal advisory services at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Christopher Gashirabake to award the road contract to China Henan International Corporation Group.

A Copy of leaked letter obtained by IntelPost

“This is to advise that the draft contract with China Henan International Corporation Group for upgrading to bituminous standard at a contract price if Shs 207,834,646,967 inclusive 18% VAT is hereby cleared for signing,” Gashirabake wrote on September 14.

The total contract cost implies that each of 78.5 Km long road will cost the taxpayers more than Shs 2.64bn.

On Twitter, Democratic Party President, Norbert Mao wondered how nearly $700,000 is going to be spent to build a single kilometre stretch of the road.

Mao’s tweet illicited debate with some cheekily suggesting that the stones to be used will most probably be imported from Israel.

“That’s what we call systematic precise corruption, they themselves inflate the price of the road, money is released and then they steal just 2 inches of the road ie from Rukungiri to kanungu…get the point! NRM then brags about one way roads which are essentially death traps,” tweeted Michael Mukasa.

Others attributed the abnormal figure to a recent cabinet decision to disband UNRA among other agencies.

“The tarmac is going to be imported I guess, and the road is going to be built by robots it seems. These guys at @UNRA_UG maybe doing TAMU EGENDA (final loot) thing since their jobs hang in balance,” tweeted Joel Wako.

Tom Walugembe tweeted, “The inflated cost of infrastructure projects shall go down as the legacies of Jjaja’s (Museveni) regime. What hurts the most is that for most projects, the cost is inflated more twice or thrice but we still get shoddy works.”

While the debate didn’t attract any response from UNRA, some tweeps asked to “take time and look at the road designs and other specifications before you ask the cosr per unit you choose to ask.”

“It is very unfortunate that in Uganda everyone claims to be an expert in everything. Construction of two roads of same kilometers in Gulu and Kanungu will automatically cost different amounts per kilometer because of the land terrain. Please leave matters of engineering to engineers,” tweeted Jonathan Kagoro Mpuga.

Tindamwebwa J accused Mao of being a comedian.

“So you expect a road constructed in a hilly price like Kanungu to cost the same as a road in Soroti or Gulu? You guys tend to be comedians sometimes,” Tindamwebwa tweeted.

This is not the first road project where UNRA is accused of inflating the project cost.

For instance, a 2016 report by the Auditor General discovered that the cost of the Kampala – Entebbe expressway was inflated by more than Shs 56bn.

Compared to similar projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, Kampala – Entebbe expressway cost 11 times more than it cost Uganda’s neighbours to implement similar projects.