Museveni launches Kampala-Entebbe express road construction

(New Vision) - President Yoweri Museveni has commissioned work on the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, a four-lane dual carriage toll road linking Kampala to Entebbe Airport.

Museveni Wednesday officially launched the works at a ground-breaking ceremony at Kyengera, off the Kampala-Masaka road.

Museveni hailed the Chinese Government for supporting the construction of the highway through a $350m concessional loan from China EXIM Bank.

The loan is repayable over a 40-year period, at a 2% annual interest while the Government contributes sh324b, in addition to $40m (about sh103b) to compensate land owners living along the route of the proposed highway.

The 51-km highway will also connect to Munyonyo, a prominent Kampala suburb, located on the shores of Lake Victoria.

According to the plan, the road will have 15 overpass bridges, 15 underpass bridges, two swampy crossing bridges and three interchanges at Busega, Kajjansi and Abayita Ababiri along Entebbe road.

The contract was awarded to China Communication Construction Company, which also constructed the Soroti-Lira Road.

According to the executive of the Uganda National Roads Authority, Peter Ssebanakitta, the first 6km of the road have been handed over to the contractor to start work. Compensation of residents affected by the construction is underway, with 250 people so far paid.

Museveni hailed China for not tying its loan to conditionalities, unlike some donor countries, whose support he said was bent on creating subservience instead of independence.

"Chinese support is not like a poor man's support. If a poor man gives you a cock, he will always remind you about it, and expect you to thank him all the time," Museveni said.

He urged Ugandans to emulate the discipline and patriotism of the Chinese, which he said had catapulted it from a third world nation in the 1950s to a super power.

"Ugandans should learn from Chinese people. They are organised and when government tells them to do something, they do it. They do not waste time in useless arguments like here, where there are so many political parties and bad behaviour, especially among leaders," Museveni said.

"In their country, if you are caught stealing, they shoot you dead. If we did that here, we would have fewer thieves," the President said.

Museveni blasted the Busiro East MP, Medard Ssegona, for asking the Government to return the properties of Buganda Kingdom. He advised Ssegona to focus on uniting the people for development, instead of peddling demands based on ethnic differences. Ssegona had earlier asked the President to ensure that the Government returns the property and pay all rent arrears owed to the Buganda Kingdom.

"Your Excellency, we are grateful for the return of Buganda Kingdom, but please fulfill the rest of our demands. We still demand for federo and we know discussions are ongoing," Segona remarked.

"In the meantime, at least return our land and pay all rent on it in full," he added.

In his response, Museveni said: "You cannot come here to lecture me on the Kabaka. I knew him and I know where I found him, and I don't want to be lectured on that.

"The NRM united all people regardless of their ethnic or religious background. That is what has helped us to prosper. Instead of tightening that bolt, you are loosening it. Besides, if we were not there, the Kabaka would perhaps not have returned.

"I would still have come here and commissioned this project, with or without an area MP. I didn't expect to find him here anyway, because the presence of an MP was not necessary. It is even my first time to see him in this area," Museveni said.