246BN to construct roads in Congo is a good investment -Gen Katumba

Works and Transport minister Gen. Katumba Wamala speaking at a press conference in Kampala on Tuesday; Courtesy Photo

Works and Transport minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala, has reiterated Uganda’s commitment to finance road construction projects inside Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a means to boost trade between the two neighboring countries.

Gen. Katumba said the plan has long-term benefits in terms of revenue in-flow owing to the business potential two neighbors have demonstrated over time. He said the road network will help improve mobility and ease business between the two neighboring countries as well as improved people to people interconnectivity thereby opening the Congo market for Ugandan made products.

Cabinet last week approved the move by the Ugandan government to help finance projects to surface over 223 kilometers (about 124 miles) of road inside neighboring Congo despite poor infrastructure back home.

Such an arrangement is unheard of in a region where governments struggle to expand road networks within their borders. Gen. Katumba noted that the vast expanse of the Congo leaves few opportunities for its population especially in the eastern part to rely on the Kinshasha government.

According to the plan, Uganda will contribute about 20% of the project value while the rest will be met by Congo’s government in an envisaged public-private partnership. The projected budget is 246BN Uganda shillings.

Under the arrangement, 54km of road from Mpondwe boarder post to Kasindi-Butembo-Beni in Congo will be surfaced, and 89km from Bunagana to Ruchuru up to Goma.

Gen. Katummba stated that while many roads in Uganda remain impassable, these road projects have been carefully assessed to boost investment and improve security in eastern Congo. This he says will in turn contribute to revenue in-flows that will finance more road projects in Uganda.

DRC is one of Uganda’s biggest trading partner with a number of the country’s exports ending up to Kinshasa.

Last year, President Museveni held bilateral talks with newly elected DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi at State House in Entebbe and among key issues discussed included trade, security and bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries.

During the meeting, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed agreements to work on key road networks connecting the two countries to ease business.

Uganda’s decision to cooperate with Congo comes amid a standoff with neighboring Rwanda, once a major export destination for grains and other produce.

Rwanda’s government closed a busy border crossing with Uganda in February 2019 in what Uganda describes as a trade embargo. Rwanda’s government ordered its citizens not to travel to Uganda, asserting that Rwandan citizens were not safe across the border.



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