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Kampala’s Infrastructure Plans Hampered by Debt Payments

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Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has highlighted that the heavy debt burden is significantly slowing down infrastructural development in Kampala. Despite a notable increase in budget allocations, particularly for road improvements, most funds are being directed toward paying off contractors.

Lukwago, who leads the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) political wing, stated, “We are glad that Parliament has allocated us 1.1 trillion shillings for the next financial year. However, it’s unfortunate that not much will be achieved because the largest portion is meant to pay off debts.

”He explained that while next year’s budget has been increased from 456 billion shillings to 1.1 trillion shillings, the impact on the city will be minimal due to the overwhelming debt. “The people of Kampala need to lower their expectations because there will be fewer developments due to these debts,” Lukwago said during a media briefing at his home in Wakaliga, Rubaga division, on May 20, 2024.

Special Forces Command Construction Regiment Summoned

As head of the KCCA political wing, Lukwago has summoned Lt. Eng. Kikomeko Kigongo, assistant project manager of the Special Forces Command Construction Regiment (SFCCR), to explain delays in ongoing construction projects. Kigongo is expected to present a comprehensive report and accountability of the SFCCR’s operations at a special city executive committee meeting on May 29 at City Hall.

In May last year, President Yoweri Museveni directed KCCA and other government agencies to collaborate with the SFC Construction Regiment, led by Lt. Col. Eng. Robert Chabo, to repair potholes and maintain roads in Kampala. This directive came in response to public complaints about the poor state of roads.

The SFC’s responsibilities include repairing potholes and conducting sectional repairs in selected areas of Kampala. For potholes, the SFC is tasked with addressing the sub-base (if affected), the base, and applying asphalt. For larger sectional repairs, they work on the sub-base, base, and the asphalt course.

Lack of Coordination and Delays

Lukwago criticized the lack of communication regarding the collaboration with the SFC, which has led to further delays. His office was not provided with details about the scope of work, contract sums, or terms of the contract. “Although our leadership is responsible for initiating all city development programs, monitoring sector performance, and reporting to the council under Sections 11 and 14b of the KCC Act 2010 (as amended), there was no clear indication of the workload ahead of us. This has left us sidelined in the road repair works,” he stated.

Progress Report from SFCCR

Contrary to Lukwago’s claims, the SFCCR reported significant progress. According to Lt. Eng. Kikomeko, 75% of the assigned pothole repairs in Kampala have been completed, with only a final handover pending. “We have completed nearly 75% of the pothole areas and expect to reach 80% during this phase. We will finish the remaining 20% in the next phase. With seven months left in our 12-month schedule, we are moving well,” Kikomeko told New Vision in a telephone interview.

He added that they initially planned to fill 12,000 square meters of potholes, but this target has been expanded to 20,000 square meters due to the increasing size of untreated potholes. “So far, we have sealed more than 14,000 square meters of potholes as we wrap up this phase of the work,” Kikomeko said.

Despite these assertions, the delays and debt issues continue to pose significant challenges to Kampala’s infrastructure development efforts.

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