By Our Reporter
Government has lined up at least another 15 new municipalities to benefit from the proposed Uganda Cities and Municipalities Infrastructure Development (UCMID) program, an extension of the current Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Additional Funding (USMID-AF) multi-billion project which will end in December this year.
Judith Nabakooba the Minister of Lands , Housing and Urban Development while briefing the nation about the progress of work done under the World Bank Funded project said that another 15 new municipalities are set to benefit from the well run project .
The 15 municipalities will join the 33 municipalities and cities which were enrolled under the first and second phase of USMID program which has run since September 2013.
The municipalities are; Mityana, Iganga, Masindi, Rukungiri, Bushenyi-Ishaka, Kumi, Nebbi, Koboko, Kisoro, Kapchorwa, Ibanda, Njeru, Bugiri, Sheema, and Kotido.
USMID-A led by Dr. Isaac Mutenyo is an infrastructure development signature project for government that has transformed municipalities and urban centers for the last 10 years ,opening up opportunities and spurring economic growth in local communities and national development.
Nabakooba said the government is intending to roll out the extension of this program between 2024 and 2029, to ensure more cities and municipalities are developed.
“We are working with the World Bank to see that we get funding because everyone has seen how the USMID program has worked and government is planning an extension to allow for a holistic infrastructure development across the country,” she said.
Ms Nabakooba said they will need Shs2.7 trillion just about ($750 million) during the next five years to have the project fully implemented .
“Urban roads of 116km, 22 local economic development and 57 km of primary drainage channels have been designed and are ready for implementation in the next phase, once the government and the World Bank sign the financing agreements,” the Minister explained.
Between phase one and ending phase two of the USMID, Ms Nabakooba explained that $138million was spent on 14 municipalities some of which have since been elevated to city status while $360million is being spent in phase two on 8 additional municipalities and 11 refugee hosting communities.
The 14 municipalities under phase one were , Entebbe, Moroto, Kabale, Mbarara, Masaka, Fort Portal, Hoima, Gulu, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Arua, Lira and Soroti.
The Eight additional municipalities include; Busia, Apac, Ntungamo, Kasese, Lugazi. Kamuli, Kitgum and Mubende and the refugee hosting districts are (Isingiro, Kamwenge, Kiryandongo, Obongi, Lamwo, Terego, Madi-Okollo, Arua, Adjumani, Moyo, and Yumbe.
“This means that right now, the ministry is implementing USMID in 10 Cities, 12 Municipalities and 11 Refugee Hosting Districts. The Ministry support to the RHDs is in three fold; – infrastructure that enhances social cohesion between refugees and the host communities, physical planning of the land of the host communities and systematic land adjudication and titling of the same land,” she said.
However, Nabakooba noted that preparation of engineering designs for the additional 15 municipalities that will join the program will be done after the program has been approved.
The first phase of the USMID program commenced in 2013 and was expected to run for five years which were elapsing in 2018. But the program was extended for more five years after receiving additional funding in 2018.
During the first phase of USMID, 78.4km of urban roads were completed in 13 Municipalities and were commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni between May-June 2019.
Under the current additional financing phase ending this year 51.8km of urban roads have been completed by June 30, 2023 and are ready for commissioning. An additional 87.1km will be completed by December 2023 when the program is expected to close.
All these urban roads are constructed fully with their associated furniture such as solar streetlights, cycle lanes, parking lanes, pedestrian walkways, bus bays, street trash cans, drainage among others.
The minister noted that the USMID program has faced some challenges too, like delays in relocation of utilities during construction, where the utility bodies over charge and also delay.
“To find a solution to this issue , my Ministry has prepared a paper on this issue and will be seeking for a harmonised policy approach for location of utilities within the right of way as a mitigation measure and clear modalities for dealing with the issue of relocation,” Ms Nabakooba said.
On the delays of work in cluster 6 which includes Mbarara city, Ntungamo and Kabale Municipality, Ms Nabakooba said; “While clustering is good policy for the civil works, some of the contractors like the one who took up cluster six have had numerous challenges like cash flows, and capacity issues.”
She added that the local governments have learnt a lesson and will ensure that these challenges are not re-occur in the next phase .
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