Op-Ed: UNRA is still collected and composed amid uncertainty

By Ben Ssebuguzi 

I was thrilled 3days ago when the Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon Robinah Nabbanja aka Majjegere was commissioning the Reconstruction of the 89.5km Masaka -Mutukula road with line minister of works, Hon Edward Katumba Wamala, Uganda National Roads Authority ED, Madam Allen Kagina, and her Deputy, Eng. Samuel Muhoozi and a host of political leaders from the region.  

According to the project review, one of the objectives of the project on the National level is to serve as a major trade route for Uganda’s transit traffic via Dar-es-Salaam port. The link will also facilitate bilateral trade between Tanzania and Uganda. The road will also assist the administrative and social coverage in the region, reduce vehicle operating costs and improve social services and trading opportunities. 

Also, the Regional level objective of the Ugx 691 billion Mutukula road is to contribute to improving road transportation and trade facilitation along the Western Corridor. According to me, this was a non-tariff barrier which was impeding trade in the region and will go a long way to improve the livelihood of the people from the two countries. 

It was also interesting to note that UNRA was still undertaking a number of other road projects like Namugongo-Kireka, Kajjansi -Munyonyo road and many others. This shows that despite the government’s plan of Rationalisation of agencies in a bid to reduce public expenditure and improve efficiency, where UNRA was among those to be affected by the changes, surprisingly they were determined to defy the odds amidst low motivation to serve Ugandans to their best.

But for heaven’s sake, when you make a deep analysis, wasn’t UNRA put on the list of those to be disbanded by mistake given the government set priorities?

With government aims to develop the social economic infrastructure and realize smooth travel for people and goods and services to markets, and access to social services, I can confidently say that it was a big mistake to list UNRA among those to face the axe. The government also targeted to create 6000km of paved roads, at least 2,205km of gravel roads to be upgraded to tarmac, and 7000km of old paved roads to be rehabilitated by now. It should also be known that UNRA is also in charge of ferries and bridges which requires good governance of an entity to manage taxpayers’ money with prudence which probably the proposers of a report to disband UNRA did not put into perspective. 

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During the commemoration of the beginning of the Fourth Global Road Safety Week, UNECE together with the UN Secretary General’s envoy on Road Safety Mr Jean Todt, held a high-level round table on 8th May in 2017 where they discussed the impact of good governance on road safety.

During the UN meeting one of the attendees, Mr Friis Bach noted that in order to address road safety issues, there should be the development of good institutions like UNRA which can address road safety issues on a country level built on good governance.

For this to happen there must be strong political goodwill like what happened in February 2024 when parliament stayed the dissolution of NITA-U, a government agency on IT through voting. Everyone has been used to running to UNRA in case of any road management challenges including our members of parliament. If they get dissolved, where shall we go? Won’t this affect service delivery? 

In conclusion, as a Muzzukulu of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni under the Office of National Chairman (ONC) managed by Hajjat Hadijah Uzeiye Namyalo, where we are responsible for ensuring good service delivery, I would implore our Mps still to vote against the removal of UNRA just like they did with NITA-U.

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I also thank the Fountain of Honor, the President of Uganda for discouraging the omnibus law to dissolve these agencies but instead deal with case by case. I also appeal to Wanainchi to speak to their MPs about the benefits of UNRA and take their ideas to the August House not to dissolve UNRA. By doing this, they will be using their voices to choose how they like to be governed. 

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The writer; Ben Ssebuguzi is the Head of Research at Office of the National Chairman (ONC) based in Kyambogo, Nakawa Division


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