Kampala needs urgent investment in road infrastructure

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Kampala needs urgent investment in road infrastructure
Chark Benson

This Financial Year 2025/26, diverting funds from upcountry road projects to focus on the economic engine of the nation is absolutely necessary.

By Chark Benson

Kampala, the heartbeat of Uganda's economy, is choking under the weight of its deteriorating road infrastructure. Potholes, those insidious craters that plague the city’s streets, are not just a minor inconvenience; they are a significant drain on the cost of doing business.

The time has come for the government to prioritise the tarmacking of all roads in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA). This Financial Year 2025/26, diverting funds from upcountry road projects to focus on the economic engine of the nation is absolutely necessary.

The economic toll of potholes

Potholes in Kampala are more than just a nuisance; they are a financial burden on businesses. Vehicles suffer from frequent breakdowns, leading to increased maintenance costs and disruptions in the supply chain.

Delivery trucks, public transport, and private vehicles all face delays, which translate to lost productivity and higher operational costs.

For businesses that rely on timely deliveries and consistent mobility, these road conditions are a significant impediment.

Why focus on Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area?

Over 80 percent of Uganda’s domestic revenue is generated from Kampala. The GKMA, encompassing Mukono, Mpigi, Luwero, Wakiso, and beyond, holds the key to unlocking even greater economic potential.

Here’s why the government should focus all road construction budgets on this region:

  • Expanding Business Radius: Tarmacked roads would reduce travel time significantly, expanding the effective radius of the city. This would facilitate business operations across a broader area, encouraging investments in currently underdeveloped regions.
  • Reducing Traffic Congestion: Potholes are a primary cause of traffic jams in Kampala. Smooth, well-maintained roads would ensure a steady flow of traffic, reducing the hours wasted in gridlock and increasing the efficiency of business operations.
  • Boosting Housing and Real Estate: The high cost of housing in Kampala is driven by the need to live close to the Central Business District (CBD) to avoid long, traffic-laden commutes. Improved road infrastructure would make commuting from farther areas like Buikwe or Luweero feasible within an hour. This would not only decrease the pressure on housing in the city but also spur development in outlying areas as people move to more affordable lands.

A strategic move for national growth

Investing in the GKMA's road infrastructure is not merely a local issue; it’s a strategic national economic policy. Here’s how such an investment would pay off:

  • Increased Business Transactions: Improved mobility would facilitate faster business transactions, reduce transportation costs, and attract more investors to the region.
  • Urban Expansion: With better roads, urban expansion into areas like Mpigi and Mukono becomes viable. This decentralization can reduce urban density, lower property prices, and create new economic hubs.
  • Job Creation: Large-scale road construction projects would create thousands of jobs, boosting the local economy and reducing unemployment rates.

Recommendations for the 2025/26 budget

For the financial year 2025/26, it is crucial that the Ugandan government reallocates funds from upcountry road projects to focus exclusively on the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area. The anticipated economic benefits from this focused investment far outweigh the costs:

  • Immediate Economic Gains: Businesses would experience immediate relief from the high costs of transportation and vehicle maintenance, leading to higher profit margins and economic growth.
  • Long-term Development: Enhanced infrastructure would lay the foundation for sustained long-term development, attracting more businesses and fostering economic stability.

Conclusion

The road to Uganda’s economic prosperity runs through the tarmacked streets of Kampala. By investing in the road infrastructure of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, the government can catalyze significant economic growth, reduce business costs, and transform the city into a more livable, efficient, and expansive urban area.

The time for action is now, and the budget for 2025/26 should reflect this urgent need.

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