Road Safety: World Bank launchs a road inspection report of the North Eastern Road Corridor

BY GLORIA NAKIYIMBA

The World Bank has today launched a road inspection report of the North Eastern Road Corridor which calls for improvement of safety measures to make the road safer for all users. Some of the safety measures proposed in the report include, changing the design of the road to make it more consistent to the terrain.

Other measures are , improving the cross section from two-lanes to four-lanes with guardrails in the towns of Tororo, Mbale, Soroti and Lira and at the Manafwa steep descend, use of speed guns, installation of speed humps, and delineation of horizontal curves to enhance safety for night-time driving with chevron signs.

The 340km stretch, known as the North Eastern Road Corridor Asset Management Project covers the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini road, and is about to undergo rehabilitation and improvements funded by the World Bank “Uganda has made important strides in the past decade to reduce communicable diseases, maternal deaths, and improve the overall life expectancy. Therefore, a concerted action on road safety would bring additional far-reaching benefits for the public health sector, and economic development,” said Tony Thompson, Country Manager, World Bank.

The report, funded by the Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, identified several challenges including rapid urbanization along the corridor, poor road design that is inconsistent with the geographical terrain, ineffective and limited speed control measures as well as steep embankments and slopes.

According to the report a total of 98 accident black spots were identified in the corridor – equivalent to one black spot every 3.5km.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Kampala on Thursday, Allen Kagina the executive director Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA noted that “the unit will be coordinating and liaising with all key stakeholders, including the police, the contractor, and the National Road Safety Council. The Unit will follow up on the NERAMP road safety performance and compliance to requirements of the national road safety standards and programs.”

UNRA says road Safety activities are aimed at the reduction of road traffic injuries and fatalities by strengthening the road safety management capacity, and reducing road crashes on the project corridor.

UNRA boss Kagina says the authority’s Traffic and Road safety department will play the leading role in the implementation of the safety interventions of the project, particularly the education and support to enforcement aspects.

The unit will follow up on the NERAMP road safety performance and compliance to requirements of the national road safety standards and programs.

Road safety education campaigns will be carried out in schools and on radio and TV stations in major towns along the road corridor including Tororo, Mbale, Soroti and Lira while support will be given to the road safety enforcement agencies like police in enforcing safety measures.

World Bank moves to improve safety on North corridor roads

By Gloria Nakiyimba

The World Bank has today launched a road inspection report of the North Eastern Road Corridor which calls for improvement of safety measures to make the road safer for all users. Some of the safety measures proposed in the report include, changing the design of the road to make it more consistent to the terrain.

Other measures are , improving the cross section from two-lanes to four-lanes with guardrails in the towns of Tororo, Mbale, Soroti and Lira and at the Manafwa steep descend, use of speed guns, installation of speed humps, and delineation of horizontal curves to enhance safety for night-time driving with chevron signs.

The 340km stretch, known as the North Eastern Road Corridor Asset Management Project covers the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini road, and is about to undergo rehabilitation and improvements funded by the World Bank

“Uganda has made important strides in the past decade to reduce communicable diseases, maternal deaths, and improve the overall life expectancy. Therefore, a concerted action on road safety would bring additional far-reaching benefits for the public health sector, and economic development,” said Tony Thompson, Country Manager, World Bank.
The report, funded by the Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, identified several challenges including rapid urbanization along the corridor, poor road design that is inconsistent with the geographical terrain, ineffective and limited speed control measures as well as steep embankments and slopes.

According to the report a total of 98 accident black spots were identified in the corridor – equivalent to one black spot every 3.5km.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Kampala on Thursday, Allen Kagina the executive director Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA noted that “the unit will be coordinating and liaising with all key stakeholders, including the police, the contractor, and the National Road Safety Council. The Unit will follow up on the NERAMP road safety performance and compliance to requirements of the national road safety standards and programs.”
UNRA says road Safety activities are aimed at the reduction of road traffic injuries and fatalities by strengthening the road safety management capacity, and reducing road crashes on the project corridor.

UNRA boss Kagina says the authority’s Traffic and Road safety department will play the leading role in the implementation of the safety interventions of the project, particularly the education and support to enforcement aspects.

The unit will follow up on the NERAMP road safety performance and compliance to requirements of the national road safety standards and programs.

Road safety education campaigns will be carried out in schools and on radio and TV stations in major towns along the road corridor including Tororo, Mbale, Soroti and Lira while support will be given to the road safety enforcement agencies like police in enforcing safety measures.

Anthony Thompson named new World bank country manager

By Gloria Nakiyimba
The World Bank has announced Antony Thompson as the new Country Manager for Uganda Mr. Thompson replaced Ms. Christina Malmberg Calvo whose contract expired on 31 July, and he will be overseeing 26 projects in Uganda  totaling to 3 billion US dollars.
“Under his leadership, the World Bank will continue supporting inclusive growth and poverty reduction through a wide array of financial products and technical assistance” read part of the statement issued by the World Bank.
Some the World bank programs in Uganda are targeting to raise rural incomes by increasing agricultural productivity and commercialization and reducing vulnerability to shocks.
This is achieved through investing in better service delivery, particularly in health and education; improving the business environment and access to infrastructure services.
Mr. Thompson served as  the country manager for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, since August 2014.
He joined the World Bank Group in 1992 as part of the Young Professional Program, working on human development for the Middle East and North Africa region’s country operations department.
He has worked in several different capacities, including operations officer, lead financial sector specialist, operations advisor, and sector manager. Throughout his career in the World Bank, he has worked extensively in financial sector, private sector development, and tax administration.
Thompson’s areas of expertise include health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and financial sector reforms.

World Bank impressed with social media tax debates

The World Bank Senior Economist for Uganda Richard Ancrum Walker says he is impressed with the public debate around proposed new taxes, including that on social media usage.

Addressing journalists in Kampala, Walker said that for long, public debate in Uganda has been about expenditures and not revenue mobilization. Walker said he is happy that this time, there has been a lot of public debate on the administration of revenues, which is crucial for Uganda.

In her tax proposals for the financial year 2018/19, the government intends to introduce new taxes including among others, the 100 shillings daily tax on social media user, the one percent charge on every mobile money transaction and taxing of savings and credit cooperative organizations (Saccos), among others.

The Uganda Revenue Authority also wants banks to furnish it with customer details as one way of generating revenues, although the president has since halted the move. Also on the cards is a proposal to tax each international call at 330 Shillings.

The new tax proposals like that on users of social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, have generated public uproar, with most voices opposing it as “double taxation” on grounds that such social media users already pay taxes on the airtime and data, as well as on the smartphones.

In 2016/17 financial year, the Uganda Revenue Authority collected 13 trillion Shillings, which is less than half of the national budget of 29 trillion Shillings. In order to cover the deficit, the government has to borrow externally and domestically, as well as sourcing from development partners.

The implication is that the borrowing increases the debt burden, as more and more monies are used to repay the debt, including more borrowing. In the current budget, nearly three trillion Shillings is for debt repayment.

Reacting to the World Bank stance, political economist Prof Julius Kiiza, of Makerere University, agrees that the increased focus and debate on different sources and nature of government revenues is healthy and encouraging.

According to Prof Kiiza, the debate should be deepened to include government’s double standards of providing generous tax holidays for so-called investors, while, as he puts it, “squeezing the daylights out of ordinary businesses and citizens who are already struggling”.

Prof Kiiza says even without proposing new revenue sources, the government is already losing so much in revenues to dubious investors who, in addition to benefiting from tax exemptions, also use offshore dealings to fleece the country of lots of money.

He says the debate on resource mobilization must also focus on the citizens holding duty bearers accountable for every single coin they collect and spend.

Writing in The Daily Monitor recently, economist Dr Fred Muhumuza of Makerere University, the new tax proposals are symptomatic of so much chaos in the country and that it is hard to determine what will happen when the proposed taxes take effect.

Dr Muhumuza wondered what could be the real intention behind the new taxes like the “WhatsApp” tax considering that such users are already taxed for buying airtime and data. He thinks the tax is more to do with curtailing freedom of information and expression.

According to Dr Muhumuza, using the Internet is more of a production than a consumptive venture, and should be promoted.

 

~URN

KCCA street naming extending to Rubaga and two other divisions

By Wasswa Deo
The naming of streets and houses by Kampala capital city authority is expected to end by June this year.
Kawujju Peter, the Kampala City Council Authority spokes person says the project being funded by the World Bank. He adds that the exercise has been successfully concluded in Kampala central and Nakawa divisions and will soon head to the other three divisions of Rubaga, Makindye and Kawempe

Six held over missing accountability of municipal infrastructure development money in Fort Portal

Six officials of Fort Portal Municipal Council have recorded statements at the central police station after failing to answer queries raised in the 2013/2014 Auditor General’s report.

The officials were held this morning on the orders of the Local Government Accounts Committee of Parliament.

Members of the Committee, who are currently in Kabarole district, summoned the six municipal council officials to provide accountability for more than one billion Shillings meant for the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development -USMID project.

The officials are the Town Clerk Paul Omoko, Acting Principal Treasurer Diana Kamwenge, Municipal Engineer Herbert Kayihura, the focal person USMID project, Alice Komuntaro, Municipal Law Enforcement officer Roger Mulindwa and Procurement Officer Mwajuma Kobusinge.

USMID is a World Bank initiative designed to improve performance of selected Local Governments (LGs) to improve urban service delivery.

The legislators led by their chairperson, Aswa County MP Regan Okumu, put to task the officials to explain how the funds were used. Quoting the 2013/2014 Auditor General’s report, Okumu told the officials the funds were not put to proper use. He noted that some of the roads in the municipality that were supposed to be worked on under the project remain in a bad state.

Okumu also questioned the appointment of Komuntaro as the project’s focal person and yet she lacked the qualifications.

The officials failed to answer any of the questions put to them by the legislators.

Okumu warned them that he will hand them over to the police if they remain quiet.

They however kept their silence forcing Okumu to ask police officers to take them to Fort Portal Police Station and record statements.

By the time of filing the story, the officials were still at the police station.

In 2012, Fort Portal Municipality failed to utilise 3.2 billion Shillings meant for the USMID project.

The first phase of the project was supposed to start in 2012, but no works had started, despite the availability of the funds. Some of the key projects that were meant to be worked on include the expansion and tarmacking of roads, renovation of the Bus Park, improving the drainage system and construction of more markets in the three municipal divisions, among other things.

Municipal officials argued then that the funds could not be utilised because the two contractors who had been selected to do construction works refused to start work under unclear circumstances.

-URN

Government picks up the slack on The Fort Portal -Kamwenge road

By Patricia Osman
Government has taken over the financing of the Fort portal Kamwenge road project.
In December 2015 year World Bank cancelled funding to the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project following contractual breaches related to workers’ issues, social and environmental concerns, poor project performance, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by contractors.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim also said they found inadequacies in Bank supervision and lack of follow-through after serious issues were identified.

Government departments should learn a lesson from UNRA-World Bank incident: Kagina

The executive director Uganda national road authority Allen Kagina warns that the with draw of funds by world bank from Uganda’s road project should be a lesson to all Government departments not to ignore concerns raised by the community as they work on certain projects.

Addressing  journalists at Uganda  media centre kagina said that if the old managers  of UNRA  had addressed the issues that were raised by the communities  in fort portal  kamwenge road , the funds wouldn’t have been withdrawn by the  world bank.

The world bank withdrew funding  for   Fort portal  kamwenge road in December  last year following complaintd recieved by an independednt board.

Among other complaints were failure to manage stone quarries, mistreatment of workers,child labor. There were also serious allegations of road workers’ sexual relations with minor girls in the community, and sexual harassment of female employees sited.

World Bank also warned to review other world bank programs in Uganda and other countries to make the needed improvements.