UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The Japanese government has issued a challenge to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), demanding road repairs before further funds can be committed to new road projects.
Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda, emphasised the need for commitment to road maintenance as a prerequisite for receiving additional support or grants.
He highlighted that the funds provided by Japan come from the Japanese taxpayers, and it is crucial to demonstrate responsible use of these resources.
During a joint inspection of the Atiak-Nimule Road in Gulu City, which was financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and completed in 2016, Ambassador Hidemoto responded to a request by UNRA acting Executive Director Joseph Otim for financial assistance to maintain and repair national roads.
The ambassador emphasised the importance of assessing the value for money and level of maintenance for all funded projects and expressed the Japanese government’s commitment to follow up on their implementation.
The ambassador said: “We will follow up on these projects to see how they are used, if it is used properly, the next project is there. Constructing a road is one tough thing but what is tougher is maintaining it, roads can be used for many years as long as there is good maintenance.”
Joseph Otim highlighted UNRA’s current financial constraints in maintaining roads due to budget limitations caused by the impact of Covid-19.
He expressed hope that the Japanese government could extend assistance in this regard. Otim explained that the constrained budget has limited their maintenance activities in recent years.
“On the maintenance, we are financially constrained, maybe at one point, the Japanese government could come in to help us. For the last two years, we have had, arising from Covid-19, a constrained budget, which has limited our maintenance activities,” the UNRA official said.
Ambassador Hidemoto stressed that maintenance is not limited to roads but also extends to schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure.
He acknowledged the financial challenges faced by the Ugandan government in road maintenance but emphasised the necessity of addressing these concerns.
He emphasised that constructing a road is challenging, but maintaining it properly is even more difficult. Good maintenance ensures the longevity of roads and enhances their usefulness for many years.
Despite these challenges, UNRA has allocated a budget of USh290 billion for road repairs and maintenance in the next financial year.
The Atiak-Nimule Road project was initiated in July 2013, with a loan of Japanese Yen 3.995 billion under concessional terms. This project complemented the improvement of the Gulu-Atiak Road, which received financing from the World Bank.
The road has played a crucial role in enhancing regional trade competitiveness and facilitating the integration of East African Community (EAC) member states, as stated by JICA’s chief representative in Uganda, Mr Inoue Yoichi.
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