BY MARKO TAIBOT
ADJUMANI: Tuesday, September 20, 2022
STRABAG, an Austrian construction company undertaking the tarmacking of the Atiak-Laropi road, has asked for an extension of the contract period for additional 18 months.
Sources from the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) have confirmed that the contractor will not be able to complete the project by December 2022 when the initial 36 months contract runs out.
The European Union is funding the tarmacking of the 66km Atiak-Laropi road as part of the bigger Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program.
It has provided 53.8m euros (Sh235bn) to fund the construction while the government of Uganda has contributed in terms of land acquisition and compensation of affected land owners.
Julius Mwesigwa, the UNRA area manager for Moyo that overseas Moyo, Obongi and Adjumani, has confirmed that the completion rate currently is standing at 48%.
“We think they are doing a good job. We may accept the extension because we did not want to compromise the quality of the work,” he remarked.
He explained that the Atiak-Laropi road will be upgraded from gravel to class II bitumen standard with a carriageway width of 7 meters and 2 meters wide shoulders on either side.
A dispute between Utukulu Company limited and STRABAG over a quarry site in 2020 is believed to have contributed to the delay of the construction works.
When contacted on the matter, Paul Halfar, the STRABAG commercial officer replied: “Good day, hope you are well. No feedback yet. I will get back to you once I have something.”
But a cross-section of the road users in Adjumani district have expressed bemusement at the pace of the works saying it is very slow.
Catherine Lindrio, a resident of Pakele town council where the road passes, said she the contractor should speed up while the government considers extending the contract.
The Moyo district chairman, William Anyama, said the Atiak-Laropi road is part of the Atiak-Moyo-South Sudan border road which is an international route connecting the remote North-Western regions of Uganda and South Sudan to the Ugandan capital of Kampala via the regional capital of Gulu.
“We need this road completed, but we do not want the quality of the road compromised. The road is not only for the people of west Nile but it is an international road,” Anyama emphasized.
Anyama said the project will contribute toward improving road transportation and trade facilitation along the corridor thus improving transport services and agricultural productivity by connecting remote and disadvantaged districts to the main road network.
The project road traverses through Amuru and Adjumani districts in a North-westerly direction passing through the trading centers of Dzaipi, Pakelle, and Adjumani town, and ends at Umi Ferry landing site on River Nile.
Under the project, 4km of roads in towns where the road passes will also be upgraded with streetlights.