By Billy Rwothungeyo

KAMPALA, Allen Kagina, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), has vowed that the road agency will henceforth work more closely with local communities to avoid cancellation of funding from development partners.

"The main stakeholder is the community in which a road is passing. As the UNRA, we have not always done that, we bring in contractors, they begin work, and the community may have concerns, and we have not always listened," she acknowledged during a media briefing here Thursday.

Her comments come in the wake of the the decision by the World Bank to cancel funding to the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project (TSDP) because of "contractual breaches related to poor project performance, social and environmental concerns, workers' issues, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct by contractors".

"The multiple failures we've seen in this project -- on the part of the World Bank, the Government of Uganda, and a government contractor -- are unacceptable," said World Bank President Jim-yong Kim, in a statement issued earlier this week.

Kagina, elaborating on how the authority will work with communities, said: "Going forward, for every road project, we will have a grievance committee, a community education programme, a social safeguard committee, an environment committee composed of not only us, but also the community members."

Kagina also revealed that as part of the restructuring at the authority, it was in the process of acquiring equipment to also undertake road projects itself.

"We are procuring equipment so that UNRA can also actually construct a road. Up to this point, everything is tendered out. But for the kind of organization we are, with highly skilled engineers, there is no reason why we should not construct roads."



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