Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, the minister of state for works, Friday presided over the procurement launch of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway PPP Project.
Speaking at the event, Katumba said this is one of Government’s top most priority infrastructure projects, explaining that it was indeed long overdue.
The existing Kampala-Jinja highway is along the Northern Corridor which is the main gateway for exports and imports to and from the port of Mombasa on the Kenya coast not only for Uganda but other land-linked Eastern African nations of Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Eastern DRC.
At the present, this road section is experiencing severe traffic congestion resulting in high travel times (up to 4 hours between Kampala and Jinja), high vehicle operating costs and accident rates.
It has therefore become a major hindrance to trade and economic growth.
In 2011, Government identified Kampala-Jinja super highway as a strategic project which should benefit from non-traditional financing such as Public Private Partnerships.
This was due to its potential to repay the development and maintenance costs from its cash flows.
This project is in line with the Uganda Vision 2040 that envisioned modern road infrastructure, and in line with the National Transport Master Plan, Greater Kampala Metropolitan Transport Plan (GKMP) as well as the Kampala Physical Development Plan.
Katumba said Vision 2040 clearly lays out the required interventions for Uganda to become an upper middle income country by 2040.
These include accumulating a critical mass of transport infrastructure network to spur economic growth, improving the investment climate and competitiveness through quality infrastructure, urgently attain an integrated transport infrastructure network to spur economic growth, developing road infrastructure to improve transport connectivity, effectiveness and efficiency to comparable levels of the developed countries, and building multi-lane expressways and superhighways connecting major cities, exit ports and economic zones.
Government’s focus on prioritizing infrastructure development in Uganda therefore is aimed at building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy.
This is because infrastructure development is a key enabler for economic development, Katumba said.
With the current efforts for East African regional integration, there is a great need for regional infrastructure projects.
The Kampala-Jinja Expressway happens to be a regional project since it is part of the regional infrastructure projects (Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba-Jinja-Kampala highway) that the EAC heads of State agreed should be constructed by 2025.
Currently, financing to the road sector is exclusively by Public sector which faces demands from other sectors.
This has led Government to seek the leverage and expertise of the private sector in the delivery of core infrastructure through Public Private Partnerships.
The Kampala-Jinja Expressway happens to be the first road PPP project in Uganda that we hope will open the way for many more in future.
“For strategic projects such as the Kampala-Jinja super highway, we are looking to partner with the Private Sector to Design, Build, Finance, Operate, maintain and Transfer back to Government at the end of the 30 year concession term,” he explained.
He added: “This is in part because this project can pay for itself through road tolls. A number of Development Partners have expressed their readiness to support Government on this project which demonstrates the importance of the project.”
Government on its part is committed to the rule of law and will provide support to the investors in the form of peace, conducive policy and regulatory framework to ensure delivery of a world class highway that will facilitate Uganda’ goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2032.
Katumab said government expects the selected investors to have strong local content focus, to provide jobs and skills to the local people especially along the road corridor.
The Ministry of Works and Transport has been spearheading the formulation of enabling policies and laws to facilitate private sector investment in the road sector.
The tolling policy was approved in May 2017 and the Roads Bill which is expected to provide the legal framework for collection of tolls was approved by cabinet in March 2018 and is expected to be passed by Parliament before the end of the year.
Katumba noted that Government is fully behind this project since it is a priority project for the country and looks forward to partnering with a credible developer to provide the much needed quality road infrastructure along this lifeline corridor for the country.
In future, the plan is to have a super highway all the way from Malaba, at the border with Kenya, to Katuna the border with Rwanda.
This would therefore necessitate extension of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway to Malaba, and extension of the Kampala-Mpigi Expressway to Katuna. This presents future opportunities for investors that chose to invest in Uganda.
Government is also in the process of preparing an Expressway Development Master Plan that will clearly spell out the expressway development sequence to facilitate the country’s economic growth.
Given the aspirations of the Uganda Vision 2040, as well as the National Transport Master Plan, there will be sizable road development programme for the next 10-20 years.
This implies, there will be many more opportunities for road infrastructure development for which we are inviting all investors to participate in as and when they become available.
“I wish to thank you all for your interest in the Kampala-Jinja Expressway project and assure you that Government is committed to a transparent procurement process and all bidders that participate in the process should expect to be treated fairly.”