Hoima City’s business community is growing increasingly frustrated as road construction projects progress at a snail’s pace, disrupting their day-to-day operations.
In November of last year, China Railway 18 Bureau Group Company Limited (CR18G) was awarded a contract worth sh30 billion to upgrade four kilometers of roads.
These upgrades are being carried out as part of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme-Additional Funding (USMID-AF), financed by a loan from the World Bank. The project aims to transform gravel roads into bitumen standards.
The affected roads, including Perse-Commercial Street (0.4KM), Government Road Extension (0.46km), Circular (1.00km), Bikunya (0.26km), Tayali-Crown-Eka road (0.60km), Tank Hill (0.20km), and Mandela-Sir Tito (1.30km), have seen minimal progress despite the project being halfway through its 18-month timeline.
Local business owners, dealing in garments, carpentry, electronics, shoes, and more, have reported a significant drop in customers.
They attribute this decline to the numerous hurdles customers must overcome to reach their shops, including navigating open drainage channels and dealing with persistent dust and mud caused by the ongoing road construction.
During a recent site visit by city authorities, the frustrations of these business owners were made evident.
Joan Aheebwa, a clothing retailer, expressed her customers’ dissatisfaction with the dusty and muddy conditions surrounding her shop.
City officials, led by Badru Mugabi, the Hoima Resident City Commissioner, met with the contractor and the project consultant, Continuum Engineering Limited in association with Centre for Infrastructure Consulting Limited.
Mugabi expressed concern about the remaining work and requested that the roads leading to and near businesses be prioritised.
Brian Kaboyo, the City Mayor, called on the contractor to expedite the work to minimise disruptions for local businesses.
Henry Namisi Gasolo, the CR18G Engineer, explained that the project’s delays are due to factors such as limited labor, delays in utility relocations for acquiring the right of way, traffic congestion, and reckless driving that occasionally slows their progress while ensuring safety.
Despite these challenges, he reassured stakeholders that they are currently at 61% completion and have mobilised the necessary resources. He committed to finishing the project by April 30, 2023.
Kaboyo stressed the importance of meeting the December 2023 deadline set by the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development to secure extra funding for the project.
He reminded everyone involved that time is of the essence to maximise the gains from the USMID initiative.
The Hoima City business community eagerly awaits an expedited resolution to these road works, hoping for an end to the disruptions that have plagued them for too long.