Efforts to construct a steel bridge over the Katonga River along the Kampala-Masaka highway have faced setbacks due to extended negotiations between the Ugandan government and China Communications Construct Company Ltd (CCCC).
Inside sources from the Ministry of Works have disclosed that despite multiple rounds of talks, an agreement on the terms of the contract has not been reached by both parties.
An undisclosed source within the Works ministry revealed on Monday, “The core issue revolves around financial aspects; both sides have not come to a consensus on the contract amount, which is contributing to the project’s delay.”
Currently, only light vehicles, such as commuter taxis, saloon cars, and minibuses, can utilize a segment of the bridge. Larger vehicles and buses are required to take an alternative route through several districts, resulting in longer travel times to reach Masaka.
Allan Ssempebwa, the spokesperson for Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), acknowledged that negotiations are ongoing. He indicated that substantial internal work is being undertaken to finalize the project’s design and ascertain the necessary funding for the entire undertaking. Ssempebwa called for patience as they address these issues.
The Kampala-Masaka highway is a crucial transportation artery, with around 30,000 vehicles traversing it daily. It serves as a primary link to neighboring nations such as the DR Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, playing a significant role in the movement of goods.
In June, CCCC initiated the construction of a temporary steel bridge at Katonga River to accommodate all vehicle types. However, progress has been sluggish. In the initial stages, UNRA attributed the slow pace to the need to relocate utility poles, a task that was only recently completed.
During an inspection of the River Ssezibwa bridge in Kayunga District, UNRA executive director Allen Kagina revealed that the government intends to submit an additional budget to Parliament to secure funding for both the Ssezibwa and Katonga bridge projects. However, the precise financial requirements were not disclosed.
Rehabilitation work at the upstream section of the Katonga River, where culverts were damaged by floods, has also been hindered due to the absence of a contractor at the site.
Adapted from monitor publication
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