Uganda: Deplorable Road Hindering Cross-Border Trade
A cross section of residents has said rhe delay to upgrade Maracha-DR Congo road that was last graded about 17 years ago was hindering the cross-border trade.
During rainy seasons, the 38.5 kilometre road becomes impassable and passengers spend nights with their perishable goods hence make loses.
Besides being narrow and bushy, the road also has many potholes and becomes very dusty during the dry season.
Efforts by residents to task the district leadership to upgrade the road have yielded no fruit.
“We feel like there is no government that caters for their people. Where do the taxes we pay go? Last year, I lost about Shs400,000 worth of my goods that perished on this road.
We cannot reach the market in time,” Mr George Asiku, one of the road users, says, adding that the government should look at some priority areas for its citizens.
The acting district engineer, Mr George Olega, argues that the border road has a poor surface condition.
“This road is at a level of rehabilitation. The surface is completely damaged which requires a lot of money. It will equally require the Ministry of Works and Transport to intervene,” he notes.
He adds: “Once a road reaches rehabilitation, it is supposed to be the ministry’s role to work on it. All border roads in the country, by policy, are security roads. That is why this road should have been taken over by central government.”
He says a major rehabilitation work on this road is expected to cost Shs1.69 billion yet Maracha District receives about Shs400 million annually under the road fund.
“Maracha District with the meagre resources cannot manage to rehabilitate the road. We notified the central government.
There is an engineer who came and did a survey. But we have not got any feedback from them,” Mr Lawrence Adiga, the district chairman, said.
The LC3 chairman of Oluffe Sub-county Pontius Eyotre, said the road also linked to various schools and health centres.
“The road is economically viable because there are many local markets linking the two countries where people can do a lot of business. The economic activities here will increase once the road is worked on,” he said
Mr Denis Lee Oguzu, the Member of Parliament for Maracha constituency says: “The state of this road has significantly derailed trade in produce, increased transport costs and denied revenue for local and central government. We have severally written to those concerned to work on the road and we have raised the issue on the floor of Parliament. But these efforts have not materialised.”
Mr Tony Ochet, the station manager for Uganda National Road Authority office in Arua District, in a recent report said takeover of the border road requires a process that originates from the district council.
“Let them (council) institute the process of handing over the road to central government. And once that is done, UNRA (Uganda National Road Authority) will maintain the road. But for now it is not under our mandate. We are more than willing to work on it once it is handed over to central government,” he said.
Recently during when the Speaker of Parliament drove on the road, she was surprised at the level of the sorry state of the road. She then promised to petition the Ministry of Works and Transport about the road as she said this was hindering business and was dangerous to lives.
The Uganda-DRC border road that stretches from Vurra customs in Arua District to Oraba border in Koboko District (about 92km), was initially maintained by Arua District.