Uganda Parliament Rejects Road Fund Bill Amendment, Demands UNRA Operationalization

Uganda Parliament rejects Road Fund Bill amendments, demands UNRA operationalization first, citing concerns over wage bill and project delays if agency is mainstreamed.

Israel Ojoko
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Uganda Parliament Rejects Road Fund Bill Amendment, Demands UNRA Operationalization

Uganda Parliament Rejects Road Fund Bill Amendment, Demands UNRA Operationalization

The Uganda Parliament has rejected amendments to the Road Fund Bill 2024, demanding that the Ministry of Works first operationalize the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) before making any changes.

The Works Minister, Katumba Wamala, had revealed plans to table fresh amendments to the UNRA Amendment Bill 2024, focusing on the agency's huge wage bill and large staff size of around 1,200 employees.

Wamala stated that returning UNRA to the Ministry of Works would save the government 39 billion Ugandan shillings in monthly worker wages, which could then be redirected to road construction.

However, the Parliament's Committee on Physical Infrastructure, represented by Dan Kimosho, argued that not returning UNRA to the ministry would save the government 227.24 billion Ugandan shillings in severance payments for laid-off workers.

Kimosho explained that UNRA's high wage bill is due to its highly skilled workforce, which the ministry had previously failed to retain due to low pay. He also noted that UNRA contributes 75 billion Ugandan shillings to the Consolidated Fund through road toll collections, which can cover its wage bill.

Why this matters: The decision by the Uganda Parliament to reject the Road Fund Bill amendment and demand the operationalization of UNRA before any changes are made has significant implications for the country's road infrastructure development. It highlights the importance of maintaining UNRA's autonomy and specialized skills in managing major national road projects.

The Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure presented a report defending UNRA's autonomy, stating that the agency has been crucial in the development and maintenance of the national road infrastructure. The committee expressed concerns that mainstreaming UNRA would lead to challenges and delays in project implementation. "UNRA has been doing good work and should remain autonomous," argued Members of Parliament who supported the committee's position.

As a result, the Parliament voted against the bill, and the Speaker directed the minister to bring amendments to the 2006 UNRA Act that would give the minister more oversight powers in the sector. The President has also directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to expedite the establishment of the entity before any changes are made.

Key Takeaways

  • Uganda Parliament rejected Road Fund Bill 2024 amendments, demanding UNRA operationalization.
  • Proposed UNRA return to Ministry of Works would save $39B monthly, but cost $227B in severance.
  • UNRA's high wage bill due to skilled workforce, but it contributes $75B to Consolidated Fund.
  • Parliament defended UNRA's autonomy, citing its crucial role in road infrastructure development.
  • President directed Ministry to expedite UNRA establishment before any changes are made.