Speaker Bins Gov’t Request To Borrow $119 Million For Oil Roads

The request was tabled by State Minister for planning David Bahati. The government is seeking to borrow from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga blocked Wednesday a government proposal to borrow $119 million to upgrade three roads in the Albertine, which are needed to facilitate the development of  key oil and gas infrastructure projects.

The request for the “oil roads” cash was tabled by State Minister for planning David Bahati. The government is seeking to borrow from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Bahati said that the loan would finance the upgrading of the Masindi-Biiso, Kabaale-Kiziranfumbi and Hohwa-Nyairongo-Kyarusesa-Butoole road projects.

“Madam Speaker I beg to lay a proposal to borrow up to 108.521 million Euro from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to finance the Masindi-Biiso, Kabaale-Kiziranfumbi and Hohwa-Nyairongo-Kyarusesa-Butoole road upgrade project which are popularly known as oil roads. I beg to lay,” he said.

Uganda is racing against time to put in place infrastructure to facilitate its 2023 commercial production ambition.

In 2016, the government directed Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA to complete the 12 critical roads (700km in total) by 2020.

Bahati’s had intended to persuade the speaker to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Economy  for scrutiny, but the speaker declined.

Last October, Parliament approved a loan request of 1.7 trillion Shillings from Exim Bank of China to upgrade and construct 363km of 5 oil road projects.

These included Tangi (Pakwach) Junction-Paraa-Buliisa Road, Wanseko-Bugungu road, Buhimba-Bulamagi-Igayaza-Kakumiro road, Masindi-Kasanja Park Junction and Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko Road.

This brought the length of oil roads that have secured funding to 550km which are estimated to be completed by 2021.

Speaker Kadaga in rejecting Bahati’s proposal said the House would not process any loan requests for road projects until a funding spat for the proposed Kampala-Jinja Expressway is resolved.

In September 2019, MPs rejected government’s plan to fund the Kampala-Jinja Expressway through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

At the time, MPs led by Bunyole West MP James Waluswaka noted that the government had initially planned to construct the 85km road project by borrowing from the African Development Bank.

However, Bahati told the House at the time that government had abandoned the idea of getting a loan and was instead opting for a PPP arrangement.

Kadaga on Wednesday told Bahati that the government cannot experiment PPP on the East and get loans for road projects in other parts of the country.

“Honourable members you remember in August or September we discussed at length the need for this government to rebuild the Jinja-Kampala expressway. It’s the main artery to Uganda.

What you’re bringing here are just tributeries. And at that time we had said we are not going to consider the loan… until you have handled the Jinja-Kampala expressway. In the circumstances, I’m unable to send this to the committee,” Kadaga said.

According to the Speaker, the expressway is a strategic project for Eastern Uganda. It is expected to snake through Uganda’s Northern Corridor to link the country from Mombasa port in Kenya to Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and also South Sudan.