By Fred Kiva
All roads lead to Bushenyi district for Uganda’s Independence celebrations, as the country marks 55years of self-rule.
According to Esther Mbayo, the Minister for Presidency, Independence “is when ordinary Ugandans were awakened and became masters of their destiny, first by realizing that power indeed belongs to them and secondly taking the bold decision of taking their lives and shedding blood to liberate themselves. This really calls for celebration of our independence, well aware that the country is firmly on the road to real emancipation and prosperity for all.”
“As a country we have since put our acts together. The road to full industrialization is on; roads, electricity, railway lines, irrigation schemes, pipped water, ICT, telephones etc have boasted(boosted) the size of our economy,” the Minister explained in her pre-Independence statement.
According to New African Magazine issue on transformation of Uganda’s road network when it comes to the road infrastructure, the country has achieved a lot after independence.
“After Independence, the government invested in all-weather roads and by 1971, Uganda had more than 1,500km of paved roads. Unfortunately, the roads built in the 1960s started to disintegrate in the 1980s at the expiry of their 15-year life, necessitating reconstruction. By 1986, when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came to power, the country’s road infrastructure was in a dire state of disrepair due to the years of civil strife and economic mismanagement. The government’s first priority was to restore peace and security as a fundamental precondition for development. As security was gradually restored, the government began the implementation of its policy to develop an independent, integrated and self-sustaining economy with the road network playing a pivotal role,”
It adds that “Since 1996, the government of Uganda’s policy has been focused on improved transport and communication infrastructure for the accelerated development and consolidation of national unity, implemented through its road development programme. In that regard, the 10-year Road Sector Development Programme (RSDP) focused on providing a safe and efficient road network by removing the existing major transport flow constraints. Under the RSDP programme, paved national roads increased to 3,000km in 2008.
In July 2008, the government decided to increase funding to the road sector by Ush320bn (US$125.5m) annually for three years with a special focus on constructing transport corridors. This additional funding increased the overall budget of roads to Ush1.1trillion ($4.3bn) – including development partner commitments, the road maintenance budget and the government’s development expenditure).”
Most of the increase in funding was channeled through the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), a new agency then responsible for planning, building and maintaining the nation’s roads.
By 2012, the network of paved roads had increased to over 3,500km. Statistics from Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) as per July 20, 2017, Uganda’s public road network stood at 144,785km,5100km (4%) is paved roads, while the rest is gravel or earth roads. Currently 1,500km of roads are under construction, while over 1,500km are in pipeline.
With the improved road infrastructure, important sectors like agriculture, tourism and oil and gas have been boosted.
This year’s celebration is under the theme, “Uganda’s freedom must be anchored in the spirit of hard work, resilience and commitment”