The 104Km road with a 15-year-lifeline initially cost Shs206b but increased to Shs208b in the revised contract, Christine Kasemiire writes.
Traders will in October have another option through which to transport their goods.
This follows an announcement by China Railway Bureau Group Company, the contractor assigned to the construction of Musita, Lumino, Busia-Majanji Road, whose completion is expected in seven months.
The road is an alternative route connecting Musita Trading Centre on Jinja-Iganga Highway to Busia Town on the Uganda-Kenya border through Mayuge District.
During a two-day excursion trip to the East, organised by the Public Procurement and Disposal Authority (PPDA) board last week, Mr Charles Bereket, the highway engineer, MBW Consulting Engineering Centre said the road was near completion.
“We have covered above 80 per cent of the works on this road and October 17 is the hand over date. We hope to have completed before that,” he said highlighting challenges of land compensation in the region.
As you drive along the road, it is visible that some parts are yet to see any works.
A brick house covering six metres in width stands between the dusty Musita road and gravel needed for the pave.
The owner says she cannot vacate the premises until she receives a reasonable offer for her property where she claims to have a business.
She is among the seven people that Mr Wilberforce Kabaale, the chairman Musita B, says have complained over delayed compensation.
“I have got about seven people who have not been paid,” he said.
However, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) responded saying some Project Affect Persons (PAPS) declined offers made by the chief government valuer, prompting a longer compensation process than they had anticipated.
“We had to revalue them. This lady plus other PAPS who rejected the first evaluation report are in the supplementary evaluation report,” Mr Peter Kwiri, project manager UNRA, said revealing that payments are expected to come through in the next two months, subject to the PAPS consent.
The seven-member crew from Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) including directors, board members and the executive director raised concerns on delayed payments to contractors on government projects.
Mr Benson Turamye, Acting executive director PPDA, cautioned the contractor who has not received payment in three months, against heaping claims which later cost the government heavily in interest payments.
According to a status report released by the contractor, Shs16.5b in Interim Payment Certificates is yet to be paid.
Vowing to intensify their role of monitoring, PPDA warned of the cost variations culminating from deficiencies in road designs.
“We are going to have a discussion with UNRA, there were issues of design in terms of some of the activities left out, which are leading to a number of requirements,” he said adding that these might increase the cost of the project.
The 104km road with a 15-year-lifeline initially cost Shs206b but increased to Shs208b in the revised contract.
The increase in cost was attributed to design reviews which are yet to be approved by UNRA.
Even then, Mr Bereket says that the project is expected to bare some savings.
The project has, however, suffered multiple thefts of equipment, protection gear and fuel due to high staff turnover.
The contract was first signed on June 13, 2014 but works commenced on September 15 that year. But due to several challenges related to mobilisation and capacity experienced by the contractor, the contract was terminated in June 12, 2017.