Kampala. Motorists plying the Kampala-Mukono highway have expressed fears about using alternative routes designated by Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) to pave way for emergency repairs on the Kampala-Jinja highway.
The Shs13.9b project, expected to last nine months, started on July 13, but various road users are worried about their security and businesses.
Currently, works on the stretch between the Bweyogerere flyover and Seeta are ongoing.
Motorists have been advised to use the Namboole Jokas-Namanve industrial park and drive through Nantabulilirwa Trading Centre up to Seeta-Namilyango road.
Mr Mark Ssali, Unra’s corporate affairs manager, says they are working on damage sections between Spear Motors and Mukono.
“The contractor is working on some very badly affected spots between Spear Motors Junction [Nakawa] and Mukono. The first phase is between Bweyogerere Flyover and Namanve,” Mr Ssali says.
The construction works are being carried out at night by Energo Projeckt-Niskogradnja, the contractors.
Mr Ssali says traffic from city centre to Mukono will maintain a one way lane on the Jijna-Mukono highway while motorists from Jinja and Mukono will be diverted to the Namanve Industrial Park Road.
“As work progresses, traffic from the city towards Mukono and Jinja will continue to use one lane on the highway. Traffic from Jinja and Mukono headed for the city centre will, however, be diverted to the Namanve Industrial Park Road,” Mr Ssali says.
He adds that traffic from Kampala City centre to Mukono will be diverted to the Namboole Jokas junction through the Namanve Industrial Park Road and end up on the Seeta-Namilyango College route.
On the other hand, traffic from Jinja and Mukono headed for the city centre will be diverted to Namanve Industrial Park Road.
Mr Yonah Ssentongo, a boda boda cyclist plying the Mukono-Kampala route, says the alternative routes pose a security threat to their lives.
“That route has many dark spots which makes it very easy for thugs to beat or kill us for our boda bodas,” Mr Sentongo says.
Heavy truck drivers also have the same fears. “If we can be waylaid and get robbed on highways that have cameras, we fear it will be worse on those routes that have no cameras and security lights,” Mr Taibu Mandu, a truck driver, says, adding that alternative routes are narrow and filled with potholes.
“The road they are asking us to use is narrow and has countless potholes which can easily overturn our trucks. So that puts at risk the merchandise we are [transporting] yet our bosses accuse us of being careless,” Mr Mandu says.
Mr Joseph Batambuze, a taxi driver on Kampala-Mukono route, says they now spend more on fuel due to longer routes.
“We charge Shs3,000 during peak hours but we may have to increase to Shs5,000,” he says.
Traders operating between Bweyogerere and Seeta, Mukono road also fear losing customers.
Mr Godfrey Ssonko, a pump attendant, says the diversion will reduce the numbers of cars refuelling at their fuel station.
“Those constructions will cut us off and that means only Kampala fuel stations will gain since vehicles will be driving through there,” Mr Ssonko says.
However, Mr Steven Mukose, another motorist, welcomed the works, saying development comes at a cost, which among others, includes inconveniences.
“When [Jennifer] Musisi (former Kampala Capital City Authority executive director), was effecting changes in Kampala, many lamented but now, we are all enjoying and in praise of her works. So my appeal to fellow users is that they ought to bear with the situation and embrace the road works,” Mr Mukose says.