Transport along Main Street in Jinja town was paralyzed after the residents held a protest over the shoddy road works by a municipal council-hired contractor.
Former Jinja district vice chairman, Moses Batwaala led the protest, carrying placards demanding for reasons why the road is being constructed in such a manner.
The protestors accuse Jinja Town Clerk, Francis Byabagambi and UB consulting Engineers – a firm contracted to construct the new Jinja Main Street Road of tampering with the initial “beautiful road design” the major eastern town.
Police swung into action after close to an hour of the protest when the angry group approached Jinja town hall. An officer who never wanted to be named told us that they had to disperse them for prevention of endangering officials at the town hall.
Tuesday last week Byabagambi and UB Consult Engineers narrowly survived being beaten by a rowdy group of residents who had gathered at the town hall to be briefed on the progress of the works and why the change of design. These were stakeholders invited by the Town Clerk for a meeting to discuss the matter.
The stakeholders who included local leaders and business owners became bitter and attempted to beat the officials after they were told that the design was final.
This prompted the Town Clerk and contractors to flee for safety as they advanced towards them in anger.
They locked themselves in the Town Clerk’s offices as police came to their rescue.
Since the construction started, residents have been opposed to the new architectural design of the road, saying it was poorly planned and that they were not consulted.
Residents contend that if they go by the changed design, the road will generate traffic jam and make some streets like Katchi, Alice Mulooki and Nizamu inaccessible.
The road is being constructed under the Uganda Support Municipal Infrastructure Development [USMID] programme which is funded by the World Bank.
Eng. David Kaddu from UB Consulting Engineers firm, laboured to convince residents to accept the new design in vain.
According to the original design of Jinja, the main street road has 10 turning points connecting to different roads.
“Closing the turning points at Katchi, Nizam and Alice Muloki roads will divide the town into two, making it almost impossible for someone to cross from Jinja East to West. This will kill people’s business,” says Moris Bizitu the speaker of Jinja Municipal council. Bizitu says the design being used by UB Consulting Engineers has never been approved by council but only the town clerk, Byabagambi and mayor, Majid Batambuze knew about it.
Reached out for a comment, Jinja district NRM vice chairman Majidu Dhikusooka, says the town is among the well planned cities in the country and changing the designs will disorganise the entire setting.
But Byabagambi who was not in office at the time of the protest, later told this writer by telephone that it was parliament and the ministry of finance delaying the completion of the construction of the road.
Asked whether they would change to the original design, the Town Clerk was not committal.
Last month, the council speaker, Moris Bizitu, wrote to the World Bank complaining about the same issues raised by the protesting residents.
The construction of the 2.5 kilometers road which cost Shs11.6 billion, was supposed to kick off in October 2017 but started in December after the cancellation of the first contractor.
The construction should have been completed on July 17 but the Town Clerk says all this was hampered by heavy rains. The deadline was then been extended to September 16, but by this cannot be met.