Boda- boda riders will not be allowed to use the newly constructed Kampala-Entebbe Expressway when it is officially opened mid this year, officials have revealed.
Mr Allan Ssempebwa, the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) media relations manager, said since the road is a high-speed expressway, it would be dangerous to allow boda boda riders and other motorcyclists to access it.
“That road was designed for high speed traffic, with restricted entry and exit points, so we cannot make a mistake of allowing motorcyclists,” Mr Ssempebwa said during an interview on Wednesday.
The 51.4 km highway connects Kampala city to Entebbe International Airport.
The main section measuring 25km running from Busega along the Kampala–Masaka highway through Kajjansi to Abayita Ababiri (Mpala) is a toll-section which will require users to pay a yet to be fixed levy.
The road was constructed purposely to support the current Kampala-Entebbe highway which is laden with heavy traffic.
Upon completion, motorists from Kampala connecting to Entebbe using the high-speed expressway will only take between 30 to 40 minutes.
Currently, motorists spend two to three while using the existing Kampala-Entebbe road due to traffic jam.
Mr Ssempebwa revealed that the main section of Kampala-Entebbe expressway (Busega –Abayita Ababiri) is expected to be ready for public use by the end of March.
“Although the scheduled completion date of this road has been changing from time to time due to a number of challenges, the main section is ready,” he said.
He added that once construction is complete, the contractor (China Communications Construction Company Ltd) will provide a schedule for hand over to Unra which will then initiate the process of opening it for public use.
Currently, Unra is in the process of procuring a toll operator as they work on a mechanism for tolling and billing considering affordability and users' willingness to determine the actual cost to be charged from each vehicle.
When asked whether Very Important Persons (VIPs) and government vehicles will also be charged for using the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, Mr Ssempebwa said Unra is yet to take a decision on the matter.
He further noted that if the road is opened to users before they (Unra) identify a toll operator, Unra will have to play the role in the interim.
Although the expressway stands at over 90 per cent physical completion level, the project still has unsolved compensation issues more so at Abayita Ababiri.
“The project is challenged by unsolved compensation on more than 2.5km. All this is a result of land conflicts in the area and some of them [complainants] are before court but our legal team is working hard to resolve these issues,” he said.
Apparently, Mr Ssempebwa said the tolling policy is already in place and a bill with proposed amendments in the Road Act is before Parliament seeking to include clauses on tolling.
How tolling will work
Unra and a toll operator for purposes of carrying out the project will agree on a maximum number of vehicles per class expected on the expressway annually.
Prior to the commercial operations start date, Unra and the toll operator will set up a payments account which will be prefunded by an amount agreed to by the government.
Collected toll revenues will be banked onto this payments account, according to Mr Ssempebwa .
During the year, the toll operator will maintain the expressway, collects toll revenue and bank it directly to the payments account.