By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus – The government collected at least UGX2.5 billion in the first month of tolling the Kampala-Entebbe expressway, according to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). The tolling exercise commenced on January 8, 2022.
According to Stephen Kitenga, the head of communications at UNRA, UGX1 billion was collected in the first week of tolling at the three gates in Mpala, Busega and Kajjansi. The money came from over 160,000 passages.
As it is, motorists pay between UGX3,000 and UGX18,000 per trip on the expressway, which adjoins from Kampala Northern bypass at Busega and joins the Old Entebbe road at Mpala. The toll collections will be used to repay the $350 million loan acquired from the Exim Bank of China to construct the 51.4-kilometre expressway.
According to the loan agreement, the repayment schedule runs from July 21, 2019, to January 21, 2032. In the 13-year repayment period, the government plans to pay $26.8 million (about UGX95 billion) every year. The government should essentially collect at least UGX7.8 billion per month to meet the loan obligation.
An average of 20,000 passages are made every day through the three toll gates on the expressway, Al according to Allan Ssempebwa, a communications officer at UNRA. He explains that this is up from the projected daily average of 13,000 passages. These include incoming and outgoing air passengers, taxi operators and Entebbe residents.
“We are happy that motorists are using the expressway and that the actual daily passages have so far surpassed our projections which at the time were made before toll fees were arrived at. We hope that the numbers grow even higher because we will use the toll collections to repay the loan for constructing the road and also for its operations and maintenance,” remarked Ssempebwa.
Ssempebwa is positive that the collections will increase when streetlights are installed on the expressway.
“We want to ensure road user satisfaction on the expressway, so on top of security patrols, free towing services, we are going to address the issue of darkness along the road by installing streetlights latest April this year.”
Meanwhile, Ivan Ruyonga, a taxi operator and a member of Fly Express Travelers Uganda Ltd, says he has been paying weekly because payment per passage is costly. He drives an average of three round trips daily from Busega to Entebbe.
According to Haruna Kakooza, a motorist who usually makes one round trip between Busega to Kajjansi, he will stick to weekly payments until he records an increase in the number of passengers boarding the Busega stage. He is, however, hopeful that more people will use the expressway when lights are installed since curfew has been lifted.
Besides, taxis charge passengers between UGX5,000 and UGX8,000 to cater for the road toll of UGX5,000 per passage. The taxis cover Entebbe-Kalerwa, Busega-Kajjansi, Busega -Entebbe and Entebbe-Kampala central business district routes. The journeys take 30-60 minutes, contrary to those that use the old Entebbe-Kampala road that use between two hours and two and a half hours due to traffic jams around Lweza, Seguku and Kibuye roundabout, among other sections during peak hours.