The government has said it will be using road toll fees as a source of revenue to curb borrowing for infrastructural projects in Uganda.
Works and Transport Minister Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala said all the expressways that the country is constructing will be toll roads.
He was speaking on Saturday as Uganda commenced collection of road tolls along the Kampala- Entebbe Expressway, a major and quicker gateway to the country’s only international Airport.
The 51km road, one of the country’s most expensive, was built using a $350 million loan from Exim Bank of China.
“Even if we get the money and pay off the loan and the operators, we still need to do more roads because right now most of the money we are using to build roads, we are borrowing. So it is high time we generated revenue to fund our road construction; this is part of the process,” Gen Katumba said.
The four-lane expressway comprises two road-sections– a 36.94-kilometer-long section and a 12.68-kilometer-long link road.
According to the loan agreement, the loan repayment schedule runs from July 21, 2019, to January 21, 2032. In the 13-year repayment period, the government plans to pay 26.8 million US Dollars, a year.
Initially, the government had planned to repay the loan through revenues from the road toll on the Expressway upon its completion. However, the road toll system had not been implemented and the road was opened to traffic in June 2018.
Users are paying between Shillings 3,000 to shillings 18,000 per trip with discounted rates for weekly and monthly trips.
The tolling exercise which is implemented by French Firm Egis Operations SPA started from the Kajjansi toll station at 10 a.m, Busega at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Mpala tolling station.
It is estimated that 2,000 cars pass through the Mpala tolling station daily. Among these are incoming air passengers, airport taxis, visitors and Entebbe residents.
Joy Nabaasa, the Public Relations Manager of French Firm Egis, which was contracted to maintain the road and collect the toll says the tolling exercise started without a glitch and that the company will ensure cards are accessible at petrol stations.
She is encouraging users to get cards according to their movements so that they avoid making losses for trips not taken.
Nabaasa says the trips paid for expire once the paid-for period elapses.
But residents of Entebbe who work, or travel frequently to Kampala have want Egis to revise their policy on expired trips.
Uganda has a master plan to reduce motor vehicle traffic within the capital Kampala by constructing expressways leading out of the city but its execution has been hindered by lack of finances.
Currently, the country is constructing the Busega-Mpigi expressway and the procurement process of the Kampala- Jinja expressway, a major link to Kenya, is underway.