Dear Mr. President!
I am hoping that this finds you well!
In a few days; you will be sworn in as our President for yet another 5 years. I do not know if you are excited about the new term in office as some of us are; I will for the purpose of this note, assume that you are, perhaps even more than I am.
I am excited about the new term of office because you have promised us so many good things; things that should change for the better, the life of the ordinary Ugandan.
I implore you Mr. President; to start doing these good things by changing the way we do things because we cannot do things the same way and expect change.
For instance in the roads sector; if we are to achieve any meaningful development; we must….
1. Reduce the cost of building and maintaining roads; so that we are able to build more roads using the same resources. This is one thing that Govt can very easily do but has simply ignored or refused to do.
2. Must empower the local road construction industry so that we build its capacity. It hurts our economy when all the money spent building roads finds its way out of the country because all the work is done by foreign companies; some of whom are actually fake. It is hard to believe that Eutaw on the Katosi road is an isolated case!!
It is absurd to say the least, that in 30years of steady progress, we have failed to build just one local contractor to international standard. Clearly there is something not right!
Continuing to ignore this industry the way the NRM Govt has done over the years, is a great disservice to the people of Uganda.
It has been common place for all your Ministers for Works to state at every chance they get, that the problem with the local contractors is that they have no experience and capacity. Three questions I have for these Ministers are;
a) If a contractor has been building murram roads for 40years; where will he get the experience on tarmac roads if you his only employer will not accord him the chance?
b) How can a contractor build capacity for building tarmac roads when they have no assurance for a job? Those that have tried have ended up with bank loans that they cannot pay!!
c) Where do they think the foreign companies fake or otherwise that come here got their experience from? Were they incorporated with this experience?
The benefits of a strong local road construction industry to a developing country like ours cannot be over emphasized.
3. We must adopt different methods of road construction best suited to our culture of having poor or no maintenance regimes for our roads.
4. We must adopt different maintenance regimes for our roads so that there is sustainable expenditure in the sector. Its baffling to see the bitumen or gravel on a road being eaten away by rain water because the maintenance cycles we have now do not provide for regular routine maintenance.
5. Abandon schemes that involve Govt taking over the construction and maintenance of roads in whatever form.
The reality is that these schemes have been tried before and they did not work, they simply resulted in the wastage of public resources! To that end, they simply cannot be justified.
Government needs to build meaningful and sustainable partnerships with the private sector in order to deliver on the roads.
Mr. President, I wish you all the best in your new term of office and I look forward to real change in the way we do things. That is the only way we shall be able to produce real results that speak for themselves in this and other sectors such as the health sector!
Contributed by Anthony Mark Mondo via WhatsApp