Jinja. The Jinja Town Clerk, Mr Francis Byabagambi, and officials from UB consulting Engineers, a firm contracted to construct the new Jinja Main Street Road, on Tuesday survived lynching after residents accused them of tampering with the initial “beautiful road design.”
This was during a stakeholders meeting at the Jinja Municipal headquarters that was attended by residents affected by the construction, police, municipal leaders and contractors.
The residents turned rowdy 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. They locked themselves in their offices, prompting the intervention of police.
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.
The residents allege that if the design is not changed, the road will generate more traffic jam and make some roads inaccessible.
The road is being constructed under the Uganda Support Municipal Infrastructure Development [USMID] programme with is funded by World Bank.
Although Mr David Kaddu, an engineer from UB Consulting Engineers firm, laboured to convince residents to accept the new design, the latter insisted that the initial design should be maintained.
Under the new arrangement, according to Mr Kaddu, two road junctions on Nizam and Kutch roads were closed.
The initial design of Jinja Main Street Road has 10 turning points which connect to different roads.
With the new design, motorists would have to drive up to Ghokale Road to access other roads.
Ms Eva Kwesiga, a resident, said as key stakeholders they were not consulted when the designs were being drawn. “Even if you explain, we cannot understand the designs, we want the final architectural designs displayed. We want all the roads open as it was before. We don’t need the traffic lights,’’ Ms Kwesigwa charged.
Mr Majidu Dhikusooka, the Jinja NRM party vice chairperson, said the district is among the well planned towns in Uganda and changing the designs will disorganise the entire setting. “Roads in Jinja were designed in such a manner that one road connects to another. There is jam in Kampala because few roads connect to the other,” Mr Dhikusooka observed.
Mr Zein Abdullah, the Jinja Central Division speaker, who also operates a shop on the main street, said closing some junctions will inconvenience their customers and affect their businesses.
But Mr Byabagambi called on the residents to embrace change, explaining that it is for the benefit of everyone and that the design can not be changed because it was approved.
“The initial designs were lost and nothing can be reversed. The plan of a town can never be static, and people who think we should have plans of 1960s in 2017 are day dreamers,” he said.
Mr Byabagambi, however, revealed that changing the approved designs attracts huge costs and has legal implications as well. Earlier on, the council speaker, Mr Moses Bizitu, had written to the World Bank complaining about the same.
But the district councillor, Mr Mbetyo Mohamad, condemned the ongoing internal fighting saying it will force the World Bank to withdraw funding.
According to Mr Byabagambi, the construction of the 2.5km road which cost Sh11.6b, was supposed to kick off in October 2017 started in December after the cancellation of the first contractor.
The construction should have been completed on July 17 but was hampered by heavy rains. The deadline has been extended to September 16.