MP Atima, RCC storm UNRA office over bad roads

MP Atima, RCC storm UNRA office over bad roads

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi  

ARUA. The continued poor state of roads in the West Nile sub-region has forced Jackson Atima Lee Buti, the Arua Central Division Member of Parliament (MP) and Charles Ichogor, the Arua Resident City Commissioner (RCC) to storm the office of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) in Arua to seek for answers.

Following pressure from locals, Atima and Ichogor spend more than three hours in the office of Ahmad Okwir, the UNRA Arua Station Manager on Thursday January 18, 2024 interrogating him on why the roads in the region have remained in such a sorry state.

“I have been coming to your office here almost three or four times and you sometimes make follow up calls with some of the contractors who are doing work within the region but I don’t see the promise on the phone calls you make and the commitments being fulfilled. You know we are the NRM government that is supposed to deliver services through you, we appropriate the budget in Parliament, send it to the Ministry and Authorities like UNRA and we expect to come back to do oversight,” Atima said.

MP Atima shows the murram poured to fill potholes along the Arua – Nebbi road rcently. Photo by Andrew Cohen Amvesi

“But from look of things, we are dilly dallying in one place and you being a resident of Arua city and Central Division, today, I decided to include my RCC who is the eye of the President in the city to share with you about the poor state of roads especially from Nebbi to Arua and the roads within the city. From Nebbi to Arua, the road is so perturbing. The whole road needed to be rehabilitated which UNRA is working towards,” Atima added.

Atima, however, noted that as the process of contracting a contractor is ongoing by the UNRA head office, the maintenance of this poor state of the road lies in hands of UNRA station manager in Arua.

“So, I have come to get the last word from him so that if this office can’t help us as a region, we take it to another level. When you moved from Nebbi, they started some work; they reached Madi Okollo, they reached Ulepi, even the work that has been done is already peeling off. Somewhere I saw murram being poured for filling a tarmac road which was constructed with aggregates, are we doing the right things, I’m not an engineer but I see taking murram to repair tarmacked road, I have never seen that but I see it on Arua – Nebbi road,” Atima wondered.

He also said most UNRA roads in the city are equally full of potholes including the huge pothole at the junction of the road that leads to Hill Top Hotel which locals are now threatening to either name after him or Allen Kagina, the UNRA Executive Director.

“The state of roads in West Nile is as if the government has neglected the region and it becomes very difficult for us who are in the government to explain to the people why this region has been like that. So, I would like you to help me, help the region, help the government and help Ugandans by giving us your successes as UNRA station manager based in the West Nile region,” Atima demanded.

In his remarks, Ichogor acknowledged the pertinent issues raised by MP Atima and equally demanded answers from Okwir.

“I don’t know whether you are aware that Arua city is a tourism hub in this country and this sub region. So, the road we are talking about is actually a tourism and business road. We are missing a lot of revenue. The revenue for this sub-region is being diverted elsewhere because of the poor state of the Arua – Nebbi road, you can see the impact and yet you have the capacity. You may talk of being resource constrained but you are supposed to prioritize,” Ichogor remarked.

“That road has embarrassed us as a government and yet you are here and I would like to thank the MP for being down to earth as a representative. He has categorically told us that he has been here four to five times, at times he gives you a call and you promise. Today we have joined him to hear from you,” Ichogor said.

In his presentation, Okwir said the issue of Nebbi to Arua road, the contractor was handling but along the way, the contractor was not paid as needed.

“The contractor took a long time like you have said to commence the work. He pulled a lot of strings, he said the contract was initiated, the advert was for 2019, that was the time procurement was initiated and they are now executing the work in 2023 where a lot of things have changed. Now execution of road works is inched majorly on fuel and he said most of the items on the market, the rates have changed and he took long even to accept because he said he will end up making loses but Director had to convince him and later on, he reconsidered and accepted,” Okwir explained.

He said the contractor started the work but up to now he has not yet been paid because of financial constraints.

Okwir asserted that the material being used on the road is gravel which was specified in the contract. He said the maintenance of the road where murram is being used is a short-term intervention with hopes that by now, the road would have been advertised for rehabilitation.

Okwir who later explained his achievements in the region to the officials promised to fix the major potholes in the city by Tuesday next week and also consider putting humps at key accident prone areas which were brought to his attention by MP Atima within the city.

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