Wednesday, 21st December 2016
UNRA Headquarters, Plot 3-5 New Port Bell road, Nakawa Business Park
1. THE REFORMS
At the start of this FY in July 2016, UNRA had 901 staff out of the approved 1,740. An additional 120 staff have since joined the organisation, bringing the total number to 1,021 to date. The recruitment exercise is continuing and we expect to reach the target of 1,400 before the end of this FY and the 1,740 in the FY 2017/18. With new staff continuously joining the organisation, management has put in place various programmes to ensure that they are quickly oriented and that they are able to take on their assignments as quickly and efficiently as possible. Critical areas like land acquisition which had hitherto suffered from lack of internal capacity have now started to register progress. We are working with government to find ways on how we can improve the speed of paying the PAPs and projects acquiring land without affecting the progress of projects.
In order to accommodate the increased staff and to improve the working condition, Management made a decision to move the headquarter offices and on 1st October 2016, the offices were shifted from Nakasero to the UAP Business Park in Nakawa. This was accomplished with minimal disruption of our services to the public. Restoration of internal systems has been on-going and will continue through the next six months. UNRA is undergoing reform in these major components;
1. Process Reforms
a. All UNRA processes are currently documented
b. The Recruitment process has been improved and automated
c. The Grievance handling process has been improved and automated and currently at roll out on (KJE, Kyenjojo Kabwoya and Fort portal Kamwenge) Country wide roll out expected in the half of next year
d. We are improving the Payment Process from the current 25 steps to just 7
e. The Financial Management has been reviewed and implementation of an ERP is under procurement
f. Business Process Re-engineering is on-going for all other Processes in the organization.
2. ICT Infrastructure
a. Set up of the Base ICT Infrastructure is ongoing. A contract exists now.
3. Capacity building
a. Undertaking design of 300 Km by our internal staff; Target is 500km by end of year
b. Specialised skills training
i. Contract Management (30 Contract Managers)
ii. Training of 12 staff in PPP projects
iii. FIDCC (19)
iiii. OPRC (29)
v. Asset Management (4)
vi. Gender Mainstreaming (2)
vii. Environmental and Social Safeguards (2)
c. Fast tracking of Registration of Engineers Program with ERB
i. Of the 83 eligible, 77 have benefited (92%)
5. Organization Culture
a. Dress code
b. Client centric institution with responsiveness to client and stakeholders)
– improving our client care personnel (revamping our call centre, our field client care personnel currently deployed on key projects like FortPortal Kamwenge, Ntungamo Mirama Hills, Mukono Katosi, Kampala Jinja Expressway and currently recruiting for Bulima Kabwoya)
c. Our Front Office is changing across the country
6. Improved Supervision
a. Improved turnaround time of average 3 days for handling a task.
b. Payment processing has improved from an average of 180 days by May 2015 to 34 days by June 2016. When we complete our ICT infrastructure set up, our aim is to establish a paperless environment which currently accounts for 50% of the delays. To put this in a proper perspective, all payments made between June-July 2016 took an average of 34 days and over 15 days was consumed in moving documents from one office to another.
The Strategic Planning: This year, Management started the process of formulating a strategy; this will contain the vision and the goals that we intend to achieve, but also the deliberate actions we shall undertake to achieve those goals. This is expected to be completed this FY.
Regulations: The drafting of the regulations which will operationalise the UNRA Act of 2006 and guide the authority on the management of the road network and the road users was completed. This will go a long way in helping us to deter the abuse of the road assets and in their protection. The regulations are now awaiting the various approvals before they are implemented.
1.1Governance and Accountability
As a requirement by the PFMA, UNRA has to make accountability to Parliament. In UNRA’s case we specifically account to COSASE (Committee on State Agencies and State Enterprises).
The exercise has been undertaken through a period of five months including the month for preparations prior to appearing before the committee. The appearances themselves started in September 2016 and went up to December 2016. However, quite committing preparations had started much earlier in August. The preparations took quite some time because all the queries raised were for the years when the current UNRA management was not yet in place.
Although it has been quite an entailing exercise for the Senior Management having to prepare and spend significant time in responding to the committee inquest, there have been some lessons learnt. The queries raised by both OAG and COSASE were an eye opener to the weak areas, fraud loopholes, irregularities and inefficiencies, that were found very helpful to the new UNRA management as it works to transform the entity. Examples of these include:
• The need to increase due-diligence in our processes, especially pre-contract award, to ensure that we contract only competent and deserving contractors;
• The need to strengthen our contract management to avoid project implementation delays and nugatory costs arising out of claims which could have been avoided;
• Due care has to be taken to ensure that every payment we make during implementation is only for value outputs from the projects;
• The importance of instituting systems which can facilitate decision making and records management.
This exercise has obviously affected our work plans in this last quarter; but with the lessons learnt feeding into the ongoing reforms, Management is determined to institute fundamental changes which address all the weak areas and increase accountability to the public and all stakeholders.
2. PERFORMANCE (July – Nov 2016)
2.1Progress – Financial
UNRA receives funding, for its recurrent expenditure and development from Government of Uganda (GoU) with the support of the Development Partners. This is used mainly for the design, rehabilitation and improvement of the paved roads and upgrading or construction of new roads.
In addition, UNRA receives funding from the Uganda Road Fund (URF) mainly for the maintenance of the road network. All funds are released on a quarterly basis.
Development: By close of the last FY 2015/16, UNRA had a debt of UGX 259.3 billion, which was carried forward to this FY 2016/17. This means that the budget for this FY was short by an equal amount. Payment of such outstanding debts take priority in the new FY and therefore immediately reduces the available budget.
Continued Suspension of Funding by the World Bank: Funding from the World Bank is still suspended which has resulted in the reduction to the available budget for road development. However, in order for Government not to default on its obligations on the ongoing contract for Kyenjojo-Kabwoya upgrading project, payments have continued to be made from Government resources, which is constraining the progress of its other GoU funded projects.
Debts: In the last 5 months, UNRA has been able to absorb all funds released as expected. However the current total bill on ongoing projects for which UNRA is unable to pay due to insufficient funds on the specific projects currently stands at UGX 109 Billion.
2.2Progress – Road Development
The paved road stock has increased by approximately 116km while 88km of the paved roads have been rehabilitated in the last six months.
UNRA is now undertaking in-house Construction and Supervision of road projects. This year, the department has supervised the following road construction projects:
i) Moroto Town Roads
ii) Koboko, Maracha town roads
iii) Moroto –Nakapiripirit road
iiii) Kawempe-Kafu overlay
The critical challenges in the development of roads and bridges have been:
Inadequate funding for some projects: The reducing budget yet the development programme keeps increasing has resulted in UNRA not being able to meet its obligations with respect to payments. While some projects have run out of budget already, some have suffered delayed payments, attracting interest.
Delayed Land Acquisition and Expropriation of Land attracting claims.
With the cancelation of financing for the Kamwenge-Fort Portal due to poor safeguards management on the project in Dec 2015, Government has continued to finance the project which has now reached physical progress of 85.5%. It is hoped that the project will be completed by March 2017.
The status of our projects will be provided after the press brief
Maintenance: For the last two quarters (Q1 and Q2), funds for road maintenance have not been released as allocated, leaving this activity with a funding gap of UGX 44 billion (30%) to-date.
We were able to undertake significant maintenance activities on the paved and unpaved road network. However, due to the limited funding, a significant part of the road network remains in fair with some of it in poor condition. The insufficient funding for the maintenance of roads and bridges still remains a challenge and with the impending rains early next year, this remains a big risk to the efficiency of the network.
Traffic and Road Safety
Operation Fika Salama
A joint operation code named “FIKA SALAMA” was conceived by UNRA and operationalized effective Thursday 11th August, 2016 on Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara road as a pilot project. This operation is aimed at enforcing driver discipline on the road and involves a joint team of UNRA Enforcement Unit, Ministry of Works & Transport and the Directorate of Traffic of the Uganda Police Force. The operation was launched on Friday 12th August, 2016 by the Hon. Minister of Works and Transport.
Operation Fika Salama has been very successful because road accidents have tremendously reduced. Road user behaviour has also generally changed. Motorists fear the consequences of the operation if arrested and they have changed their behaviour. So far Ten Thousand Four Hundred Sixty Eight (10,468) offenders have so far been apprehended and either taken through the court processes or issued with Express Penalty Receipts. All were in violation of the Traffic Laws and Regulations. This operation has been extended to other roads including Kampala-Mukono- Jinja-Busia road, Kampala- Kafu- Gulu road, Kampala- Mityana- Mubende road, Kampala-Hoima road among others.
Given the performance of Fika Salama, this initiative will be sustained. This will be in addition to the sensitizations and other road safety campaigns.
Details of the 10,468 cases are as follows;
Breach of Operator’s Licence
Interfering with safe driving
Defaced Number Plates
Failing to stop
Using a mobile phone
The above summary indicates that DMCs, Careless Driving, Driving without license and over speeding have been the major cause of road accidents. This is contrary to what was being alleged before that the road was slippery and that there were ‘ghosts’ on Masaka road which caused the accidents.
As we approach a season of festivities, we appeal to the public to be responsible when using the road, be mindful of other road users, and obey traffic rules to ensure road safety.
(i)Axle Load Control
Axle load control has had a very bad history due to corruption. The weighbridges had been baptised “ATMs” due to the rampant unethical behaviour at those weighbridges. Therefore on 13 July 2015, all the staff managing the weighbridges at that time were retired and replaced with enforcement officers under an operation called Operation Road Infrastructure Protection (OPRI).
Through this and the operation, a number of achievements have been registered;
•Impunity was decisively dealt with and sanity was restored to the axle load operations hence leading to improved compliance.
•The recorded percentage overload before 13 July 2015 was about 50% and the operation brought this down to below 5% by 30 June 2016.
•The annual collections hit 1.4 Billion at 30 June 2016 up from an average of about 500Million in the preceding years.
•Improved compliance and hence improved road infrastructure protection.
•For the period July 2016 to date, the percentage overload is about 3.06% while UGX 450Million has so far been collected in the last six months.
(ii)Modernizing and transforming the weighbridges infrastructure
UNRA will soon invest in modern high speed weigh in motion weighbridges. This will help in reducing the time spent on checking all the trucks even those which are not overloaded. We will also invest in mobile weighbridges to cover all the un-gazetted routes which are being used by some transporters.
The fixed weighbridges at Magamaga, Mubende, Mbale, Lukaya and Busitema are expected to be relocated to other sites in order to have them transformed. The Weighbridges at Mbarara and Luweero will be transformed at their present locations.
This transformation will be done in phases and in the long run we expect to reduce the human factor in the weighbridge operations to the bare minimum. This will help us reduce on the corruption related cases which are attributed to the human factor.
In order to enforce compliance, new regulations have been proposed and have been approved by the UNRA Board of Directors. These regulations have punitive measures that will discourage transporters from overloading. We have also proposed an express penalty scheme for the overloaded trucks if any. Our target is to completely eliminate overloading.
(iv)Road Reserve Protection and clearance of Right of Way (ROW)
A number of our roads have been encroached on. We have in the past engaged in massive sensitizations for people to vacate the road reserves voluntarily. Though some encroachers have voluntarily vacated, many have not. Forceful evictions from the road reserves and right of way commenced on 1 August 2016 along Kampala Northern Bypass and will continue. All Project Affected Persons who were paid and are still in the right of way will be evicted and the properties brought down. This will be done to secure the ROW in order to save costs imposed by contractors through claims of idle time and equipment on site.
Evictions will continue to clear both the right of way and the road reserves on all roads in the country. The next immediate targets are Entebbe Road, Masaka Road, Kampala-Entebbe Expressway and other roads. This exercise has is however being affected by politicians who derail our operations on several occasions.
(v)Regulations for the use of Road Reserves
Regulations for the use of the road reserves have been prepared. This is aimed at creating sanity in the road reserve especially the advertising companies which use our road reserves to install their bill boards. This will help us to have less congestion in our road reserves.
(vi) Road Furniture Protection
This remains a big challenge across the country. Partnerships are however being made with Uganda Police Force, Uganda Manufacturers Association and others in order to curb the rampant thefts of road furniture. Use of alternative materials for road furniture is also being considered.
UNRA continues make progress, but at the same time cautiously looking back to see where change is necessary. In the last six months, we have had a chance to look back, through internal reviews and following closely those coming out of the external audits. This has greatly informed the long term strategies we are formulating as well as the various systems and process initiatives we are implementing, intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services. We hope that public will be able to see the value of these efforts through the future audit reports.
I thank you!