UGANDA (eTN) – The parliamentary session in Kampala yesterday of the soon-to-be-retired outgoing house – when it makes way for the newly-elected members – made a landmark decision to approve the proposed funding for the Entebbe highway. Government is now able to conclude a loan agreement with China over US$350 million, which will help to design the new highway, acquire land where necessary, and then build it, connecting the “Northern Bypass” to a new routing around the present major emerging population centers at the old route.
The two highways will join just outside the municipality but will have several access points, notably near Lweza/Kajjansi from where a lakeside road will then lead to the Munyonyo side of the city, and from near Abaita Ababire, home of Nkumba University and the last center outside Entebbe itself.
From where the two, the old and new highway meet, a dual carriage section will be added to allow swifter traffic to the international airport, but widening that section will require some major land and building acquisitions, which are thought to be a challenge, in terms of both cost and the speed required to complete the project within the planned time frame.
There was expressed unease, though, by several parliamentarians over certain terms of the loan agreement, which also included the use of a Chinese consulting firm and a Chinese construction company, preventing any competitive bidding for the project and thereby setting aside the Ugandan procurement laws altogether. The loan, with a grace period of five years, is repayable over a twenty-year period, and the income from the toll road will be used towards repayment and maintenance. Subject to land acquisition, construction is set to start in 2012 and could be completed by 2015, staying with the grace period during which no payments to the Chinese state bank are due.
Once ready, visitors to the “Pearl of Africa” will have a totally new arrival experience when driving to the city while being able to enjoy some very scenic sights as they cruise through the evergreen landscapes. For more information on the country go to www.visituganda.com .