Uganda has invited bids from private investors to develop and operate a new 95km Jinja Express highway. The project among seeks to ease congestion on the ageing existing road.
At the present, this road section is experiencing severe traffic congestion resulting in high travel times (up to 4 hours between Kampala and Jinja), high vehicle operating costs and accident rates. It has therefore become a major hindrance to trade and economic growth.
The 95km toll road, packaged as a public-private partnership, will connect Kampala and Jinja, an industrial town, also famous as the source of River Nile. One section of the motorway will have eight lanes, another six lanes and a third will have four lanes.
Government expects the selected investors to have strong local content focus, to provide jobs and skills to the local people especially along the road corridor.
The European Union, the French Development Agency and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) have said they could offer funding for the project in a mix of credit and grants.
The estimated $1 billion project is part of the so-called Northern Corridor, a crucial East African transport artery that connects Kenya’s coast to a vast hinterland including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the tender documents published on Friday, state-run Uganda National Roads Authority said the private developer will be “expected to design, build, finance, operate … and transfer the project back to government at the conclusion of the operational period.
This project is in line with the Uganda Vision 2040 that envisioned modern road infrastructure, and in line with the National Transport Master Plan, Greater Kampala Metropolitan Transport Plan (GKMP) as well as the Kampala Physical Development Plan.
The Vision 2040 clearly lays out the required interventions for Uganda to become an upper middle income country by 2040. These include accumulating a critical mass of transport infrastructure network to spur economic growth, improving the investment climate and competitiveness through quality infrastructure, urgently attain an integrated transport infrastructure network to spur economic growth, developing road infrastructure to improve transport connectivity, effectiveness and efficiency to comparable levels of the developed countries, and building multi-lane expressways and superhighways connecting major cities, exit ports and economic zones.
Government’s focus on prioritizing infrastructure development in Uganda therefore is aimed at building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy”. This is because infrastructure development is a key enabler for economic development.
In future, the plan is to have a super highway all the way from Malaba, at the border with Kenya, to Katuna the border with Rwanda. This would therefore necessitate extension of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway to Malaba, and extension of the Kampala-Mpigi Expressway to Katuna. This presents future opportunities for investors that chose to invest in Uganda.