KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – In a full-page advertisement headlined, “Roads affected by the March – May, 2008 Rainy Season,” the ministry responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the national road network last week advertised some 14 key roads for which repairs would start by June 2008 after suffering serious damage caused by the seasonal rains.

How about preventive road maintenance, rapid repair columns and especially monitoring roads prior and during the twice annual rainy seasons?

One of the affected roads is one of only two major traffic arteries from Uganda into the Southern Sudan via Gulu, Atiak and Nimule to Juba, causing transporters substantially longer detours via Arua/Koboko. However, other roads in the East, North and West of the country are also said to be affected and not all national roads in poor condition have been included in the advert. In any case, the effort is appreciated.

Meanwhile, news has reached Uganda that the Japanese government has pledged to financially support the building of a new Nile Bridge in Jinja. This follows a state visit by President Museveni to Japan, where he participated in the Japan–Africa Summit (Tokyo International Conference on African Development), which took place earlier in the week.

The Nile Bridge was recently in the news when consultants reports, said to be over 10 years old, emerged in parliament, raising concerns over the soundness of the bridge super structure, after cracks had developed in the upper portion of the road across the top of the Owen Falls dam. A second dam further downstream is under construction but only due to be ready by 2010 or 2011, while a rail bridge further upstream from the dam is not expected to be suitable for the amount of traffic presently crossing the dam.

Japan had in the past assisted in road construction and the remodeling of several crucial roundabouts leading into the city into more viable intersections was also underwritten by Japan in the past years, bringing at least some relief to motorists when entering the city center.