Hon. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, on Tuesday launched the engagements on commencing of tolling operations on the Kampala- Entebbe Expressway (KEE) toll road project.
This road is Government’s flagship expressway project for which construction was completed in 2018 funded by jointly by the Government of China (through a loan) and Government of Uganda.
The Kampala Entebbe Expressway is a demonstration of Government’s commitment to deliver critical infrastructure that will underpin the economic development of the country.
This expressway has reduced the travel time between Kampala CBD and Entebbe International Airport to 30 minutes from the previous 3 hours during peak hours.
This has in turn changed Entebbe into a thriving town and a place of choice as a direct result of the improved connectivity along the Entebbe Road corridor.
Roads are typically financed through government appropriations and loans or grants from Development Partners.
However, resources are scarce when compared to the vast array of needs across different sectors that Government is responsible for.
Furthermore, road infrastructure is expensive because in addition to the high capital cost of construction, roads must be regularly maintained to last for the design lifespan, typically 15 to 20 years.
The shortage of finance for road infrastructure is not unique to Uganda but is faced by all countries across the world.
Governments are therefore forced to explore alternative avenues of sustainably generating funds for maintaining and expanding their road networks.
One of the methods utilized is the application of direct user fees through tolls. The provision of road infrastructure therefore becomes a service, just like water or electricity, for which the road users are required to pay.
For the same reason, all motorists who will use the expressway from the commencement date for tolling will be required to pay toll to use the expressway.
UNRA will in turn use the tolls collected to pay back the Operator (EGIS Operations SPA) for operations and maintenance of the road and to repay the loan from China Exim Bank for construction of the road.
The Roads Act prescribes that the Minister of Works and Transport may, by statutory instrument, declare a toll road and prescribe tolls.
For Kampala Entebbe Expressway, this information was published in the Uganda Gazette of 22 October 2021.
As such, UNRA through its Toll Operator is now authorised to levy and collect for the Government of Uganda, the tolls payable under Section 10 of the Roads Act, on vehicles using the Kampala Entebbe Expressway.
The toll fees shall be paid by use of either cash or electronic card as shall be communicated prior to commencement of tolling.
The different classes of vehicles will be required to pay the following toll fees per single passage through any of the toll plazas along the expressway:
Class 1 Motorcycles >400cc (No bodabodas) UGX 3000
Class 2 Light Vehicles UGX 5,000
Class 3 Medium Goods vehicles (2-3 axles) UGX 10,000
Class 4 Large goods vehicles and buses (4-5 axles) UGX 15,000
Large goods vehicles (6 or more axles) UGX 18,000
The above toll fees shall be valid for a period of one year from the commencement date for tolling, and Government through the Ministry of Works and Transport shall review and adjust the rates if necessary, based on the prevailing circumstances.
The toll fee structure has also provided for the following frequent user discounts, an incentive for frequent users such as those who stay in Entebbe and work in Kampala or any motorists making frequent trips between the two destinations:
1 Weekly Frequent User Discount 50% discount for 7 day return trips purchased in advance
2 Monthly Frequent User Discount 70% discount for 30 days return trips purchased in advance
3 Electronic Card User Discount 10% discounted rate per trip
The anticipated commencement date for tolling operations is 01 January 2022.
Between now and the commencement date, UNRA and the Operator shall be testing the system and carrying out sensitization campaigns to enable the motorists obtain the electronic cards and familiarize themselves with the tolling system.
Only two categories of vehicles will be exempt from paying tolls and these are enshrined in the Roads Act as follows:
a. Emergency vehicles of the fire brigade and ambulances; and,
b. The Presidential Convoy.
UNRA together with EGIS will begin a stakeholder engagement campaign to provide information to the public on tolling and the operation of Kampala- Entebbe Expressway, and address any queries on the same.
The expressway remains open to the public for free, until commencement of tolling operations.
“In closing, I wish to thank you all for your interest in the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway and to request for your support in ensuring the successful tolling operations of the expressway,” said Katumba.
He added: “As Government, we assure the public that proper safeguards have been put in place to ensure no revenue is lost and all funds collected go towards the operations and maintenance of the road as well as repayment of the loan.”