By John Odyek
If you wondering how to pay your debts, pick a leaf from this; the Government has to pay the Government in order to pay another government.
The Police have to pay the road toll fees for the 52km Kampala Entebbe Expressway because they have not been exempted by law, the company collecting the toll fees insists.
Joy Nabasa, the public relations officer at Egis, the French company managing the expressway, said the only vehicles exempted by the Road Act 2019 are ambulances, fire trucks and the presidential convoy.
So far the expressway has generated over sh250m, which is to be used to pay the $350m (sh1.2trillion) loan from China and maintain the road. The Government contributed counterpart funds of $126m (sh441b) for the project built by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
The Government also paid about $40m (sh140b) as compensation to the landowners along the route of the expressway.
The expressway enables a 30-minute drive between Kampala and Entebbe as compared to 120 minutes using the existing narrow and congested Kampala to Entebbe road.
The charges at the expressway range between sh2,000 for motorcycles and vehicles above 400cc and sh18,000 for very large vehicles when payment is made in cash. There are small discounts for using cards purchased to use the expressway.
Asan Kasingye, the chief political commissar at Uganda Police, had asked that police patrol vehicles are allowed to access the highway without pay.
“We don’t lose much by allowing a designated patrol car or two for that road,” he said.
“There is a designated police patrol vehicle to check on criminality on that road and prevent crimes. It takes an average of 10 trips from Busega-Mpala and back. This makes it 20 toll passes at sh5,000 totalling to sh100,000 per day and sh3m per month. What do we do?” Kasingye wondered.
In response, Nabasa said: “We call upon the government institutions to get cards and transport facilitation to pay for the road.”
She warned people using the greenery around the expressway for grazing animals. Nabasa said pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles/bodabodas below 400cc are not allowed to use the expressway.
Tolling on the expressway started on January 8 after delays, raising concerns about the risk of not meeting loan repayment obligations.
Ministry of works officials said for any exemptions to use the expressway without payments, this has to be approved by Cabinet and the law amended by Parliament.