President Yoweri Museveni has said that the move to construct roads in countries out of Uganda is meant to boost trade that can enable Uganda to get resources. He was speaking during the 58th Independence Day celebrations held at State House Entebbe on Friday.
MPs and a section of the public have expressed opposition and amazement at a proposal that will see Shs 200 billion earmarked in a supplementary budget for Uganda’s contribution to the construction of 223 kilometers of roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This follows a bilateral agreement between Uganda and the DRC to implement strategic infrastructure projects. Uganda’s contribution constitutes 20 per cent of the total cost of the project estimated at $334.5 million. Uganda also plans to construct roads in South Sudan and Ethiopia according to the minister of Works General Katumba Wamala.
The president said that although many MPs questioned why Uganda was building roads in Congo yet it still has its own poor road network, the country needs to boost its trade with DR Congo and South Sudan by building better roads. He added that the matter should not be discussed in such a way to avoid ‘annoying’ Uganda’s neighbours.
“So we’re going to do those roads because from Congo I think we’re earning $500m a year. How can you even speak; ‘why are you building the road?’ If my neighbours allowed me, am getting a lot of advantages but he still has some internal issues. That road helps us badly. The people of Eastern Congo need it but we also need it,” said Museveni.
The president says that the terrible roads in DRC are hindering business between the two countries, adding that when the roads are constructed, Uganda will be able to sell its electricity to DRC. Meanwhile, Museveni also said that they will construct an agricultural bank since the commercial banks serve a far different purpose.
“To address this, the government has increased capitalization of Uganda Development Bank (UDB) with Shs 1.1 trillion this financial year. We are also thinking of setting up an agricultural bank because these commercial banks are really commercial banks like their name says. They are there to fund traders who go China to import,” Museveni said.