Despite heavy rains that caused flooding and some difficulties in land acquisition process, upgrading of the government funded Shs 647billion 150km Soroti-Moroto road is progressing at a relatively favorable pace and is expended to be completed within the designated time, according to ground engineers.
The two-in-one project includes the 100km Soroti – Aksim stretch now at 63% completion which is being done by CCCC, and the 50.3km Akisim-Moroto Road, now at 76.6% completion, which is being done by China Railway Group 3 Construction Company.
The two parts are expected to be completed by October 2019 and April 2019 respectively if all goes according to plan.
During a reporters’ tour of the road, which connects Soroti, Karamoja and Moroto to the neighboring countries and the rest of Uganda, officials revealed that harsh weather conditions had hindered work progress.
Bernard Bernard Ocan, the resident engineer COWI, the supervising company for the Akisim-Moroto Road, said the project was challenged by heavy rainfall between March and August 2018 that led to Omanimani River flooding cutting off Moroto – Napak.
The bad weather he said, did not only delay progress but also increased the cost of building the road as the contractor had to do maintenance of alternative diversion routes and also use extensive material to counterattack flooding.
“Because this part of the country is flat and has no easy outlets for water, it easily gets flooded hence the need to dig outlet ditches and also use expensive material which makes the cost a bit higher than the normal roads. However it’s better to have an expensive road that is durable and of good quality; this is for a long term benefit” Ocan said.
On the other hand, the project has been hampered by hurdles in the land acquisition process.
Ocan cited there were three incidents where the land owners disagreed with Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) on the amount of money to be paid.
These incidents he said were being handled by the Grievance Redress committee and will soon be resolved.
According to Juliet Oyellah, a UNRA land valuer, 66.4% of the 2538 people that were supposed to be paid on section 1 of the project have been cleared while the rest will be cleared from a supplementary budget. On section 2, out of 1199 people that were supposes to be paid; only 783 have been paid.
“The road from Soroti to Akisim has not had serious land acquisition challenges, the only few incidents are related to family disagreements on who gets the money. The Akisim-Moroto has three incidents where the land owners want to be paid more than what was valued by UNRA but we are in talks with them and we hope such incidents will be cleared soon,” she said.
The two sections of the road are being upgraded from Gravel to Class 11 Standard Paved Roads.
The two main bridges, the Komolo1 Bridge and Kangole Bridge respectively are being upgraded to Class 1, international truck load, deep foundation, four pillars with longevity of 100 years.
According to Godfrey Bihemaiso, the overall project manager from UNRA, the contractors, Supervisors and UNRA have been working with communities to avoid any negative impacts.
“We have strong policies on child abuse and labour, sexual violence, environmental protection and healthy sensitisation. We have done a lot of corporate social responsibility like building dams, giving out scholastic materials to schools and planting trees. On all grievances, we have been working with community elders to make sure issues are solved to the satisfaction of each group” Bihemaiso said.
The project hired Networth consult Limited to handle the social responsibility component.