State Minister for Finance David Bahati has on Wednesday bowed to pressure from Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and availed an alternative funding arrangement for the 95 kilometer long Kampala-Jinja Express way.
Since September last year, the two have been at loggerheads after Bahati revealed that government had abandoned the idea of constructing the highway with a loan and opted for Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
This was after a matter of national importance was raised by Bunyole West legislator James Waluswaka questioning delays to commence construction on the highway which also acts as a gateway to neighboring Kenya.
“All the trucks that go to Rwanda, Zaire pass through that road. To move from here in Kampala to Mukono you need 5 hours, most of other roads have been worked on. But this road which feeds the country economically has been neglected,” Waluswaka retorted then.
The Kampala Jinja Expressway forms part of the northern trade corridor from Mombasa in Kenya through to Kigali in Rwanda.
This is a strategic corridor which serves as a trade link to the sea for land-linked countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.
In the scenes that played out that day, Kadaga stuck to her guns, saying she would not accept a PPP to be experimented on a road of critical importance moreover heading to the East.
“On this one, I will take off my gloves. You cannot experiment with the east on a PPP. It’s unacceptable, we don’t want it and want answers when are you going to build the road?” Kadaga warns.
In February 2020, keeping her promise, Kadaga blocked a request by Bahati seeking to borrow USD 119 million approximately 441 billion shillings meant for construction of three oil roads in the Albertine region. For this matter referred to Parliament’s Committee for National Economy, she told the minister to first table an alternative funding option for the Kampala-Jinja road.
Today after thinking through this matter, Bahati cowed and tabled a proposal to borrow about 1.2 trillion shillings for the constructions of this road to a thunderous applause from colleagues.
“To lay a government proposal to borrow up to 229.47 million USD from the African Development Bank and 90 million Euros equivalent to 105 US million dollars from AFB to finance construction of Kampala-Jinja Express project,” Bahati submitted.
However as a compromise, he beseeched the Speaker of Parliament to refer his earlier request to borrow for three oil roads to the Committee on National Economy which Kadaga consented to easily.
“Hon members, this house had set a condition that no loan would be considered until the issue of the express high way has been handled. Now they have responded by presenting the proposal we shall now allow the other request to go,” she ruled.
The Committee chaired by Former Energy Minister Syda Bbumba is supposed to make recommendations to the House on all loan agreements that are supposed to be authorized or approved by parliament under Article 159 of the Ugandan Constitution.