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Wednesday, 25 August 2004
  Parliament met at 10.48 a.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Deputy Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, in the Chair.)
The House was called to Order.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Chairperson, Committee on Works, Housing and Communications. 
MR WAKIKONA: I have something of urgency and (Interruption)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: But you did not notify me.
MR WAKIKONA: You did not communicate from the Chair but you forgive me. I have to present it; people are dying.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Has the volcano erupted?
MR DAVID WAKIKONA (Manjiya County, Mbale): If you give me a chance, I will tell you the details. Thank you, Madam Speaker. It has already been reported to this House that Mount Elgon is erupting any time. Yesterday on the other side of Mount Elgon, the Kenya Government moved all their people 70 miles away from the mountain. I went to the First Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Disaster Preparedness, and asked him what he is doing on the Uganda side. He told me, Mr Wakikona, you advise people when they see gas, to run away. I find this advice very unprofessional because where would they run to?
Secondly, even if the matter has not been confirmed precisely that the thing is erupting tomorrow or the day after, preparedness means pre; you do something before it happens. So, I am requesting that the Government, through the First Deputy Prime Minister, takes very urgent steps to make sure that these people are put somewhere safe until it is confirmed that there will be no eruption. Otherwise, we are likely  Manjiya alone has about 200,000 people, and you know it is down in the valley. When magma runs down, all those will be buried. That is the urgent request I put to government, that these people should at least be put in a safe place while we watch the situation especially considering that our counterparts on the other side have moved people to Kakamega, which is 70 miles away. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, this matter came up first on Monday and we had indicated that on Thursday there would be information from the Government about it. But in view of what is happening, could the Minister for Environment please tell us what is really going on? What is your seismic report on the possibility of volcanic eruptions?
THE MINISTER OF STATE, ENVIRONMENT (Maj. Gen. Odongo Jeje): Hon. Speaker, thank you very much. I do not have a final position but I have preliminary information on the situation that we are talking about. The place, which is affected, is called Kapkwen; it is not in Kapchorwa, it is on the other side of Kenya. The place, which is affected, has a diameter of about five meters and within that area the temperature has now risen to about 170 degrees on the surface of the ground. Within that same locality, there is a cave and there are gases coming out from the cave. Within that locality there is also a lake called Lake Barongo, and within this lake there are still gases coming out. This is the preliminary information and there are investigations, I have indicated.
As to whether these are indicators of a pending eruption is yet to be determined and I hope tomorrow when I make a full statement I will be able to say, Yes, these are signs of an eruption or No, there is likely to be no eruption. But that is the preliminary information I have as of now. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (Mrs Hope Mwesigye): Thank you, Madam Speaker. Unfortunately the Minister in charge of Disaster Preparedness is still in a Cabinet meeting. But this morning in Cabinet this issue was discussed and we were informed that yesterday a team of experts was sent to Mount Elgon to assess the situation and as we talk now government is making necessary preparations to see how to deal with the evacuation of the people. I thank you.
MR NANDALA MAFABI (Budadiri County West, Sironko): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I am getting worried with both ministers statements. I thought we had technical people, well trained, well informed, who would be able to come up with the results? I have discovered the Minister in charge of Disaster Preparedness goes there when people are already dead. Is it a deliberate policy that until all the mountainous people are dead, that is when you will be able to move in?
It is common knowledge; 170 degrees centigrade is dangerous enough. Madam Speaker, I propose that the Ministry in charge of Disaster Preparedness gives us an alternative today because we are not so sure about tonight. I got a call this morning, people are in a desperate state and we need your help. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, you know that we have a bit of a problem with our populations in Kapchorwa, in Mbale and also other areas, because they compete for livelihood with the national parks, the forests and so on and so forth. So, if the little land they have is going to be taken over by the eruptions, adequate and very urgent arrangements need to be made to evacuate them.
MS ALICE ALASO (Woman Representative, Soroti): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am glad that the Executive is going to come up here tomorrow to make a statement on the threat in the Elgon area. You might recall that when the report on the humanitarian situation was presented, one of the issues that were noted was to do with the landslides in Manjiya and the victims of those landslides. The Office of the Prime Minister, especially the Department of Disaster Preparedness, was requested to come back to this House and present a report or at least inform the House on what has been done to address the plight of those people but up to today nothing has been reported to this House.
Madam Speaker, I therefore wish to request that when this report comes up tomorrow, the Office of the Prime Minister would also take care to inform us on what they have done to address the plight of the landslide victims that was earlier requested of them. Thank you.
DR KAPKWOMU NDIWA (Kongasis County, Kapchorwa): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I had a chance to talk to the District Commissioner of Kenya about the impending eruption as stated; and that was by telephone conversation. He assured us that there has been a team of experts from Nairobi, which had visited the scene, and they were not convinced that there was any likelihood of volcanic activity going on, but further investigations would be taking place. That does not mean that we have to take chances.
I wish our meteorologists could actually have a word with the Kenyan experts who visited the scene yesterday. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Okay, since we have 24 hours I hope that tomorrow we shall have a comprehensive report on the likely effects of mountainous activity and also the possibility of moving people, if there is a problem.
MR ODONGA OTTO: I have an important issue here.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, why do you not notify me in advance? You know the rules, and I have been sitting in my office since 9.00 Oclock. The rules say you must notify me before 11.00 Oclock when you have something urgent to say. Let us deal with the Budget.
THE CHAIRPERSON, SESSIONAL COMMITTEE ON WORKS, HOUSING AND COMMUNICATIONS (Mr Nathan Byanyima): Thank you Madam Speaker and honourable members. In conformity with Article 90 and in accordance with our Rules of Procedure, rule 154, I wish to present the Report of the Sessional Committee on Works, Housing and Communications on the Ministerial Policy Statement and Budget Estimates for Financial Year 2004/05, for your consideration and adoption.
The report is a short one but I would request members that you have had the report with you, we can go through it very fast and react to it. At the same time I want to appeal to members that there is more information in the policy statements. There are two volumes: volume I is for major policy of the ministry plus the ground work to be done whereby you would see major works, which will anticipate work in this particular financial year, and then volume II shows the performance. But this one has the ministerial structure. It shows who is who in the Ministry of Works, plus the work that was supposed to be done, which is at the end of the report so that every Member of Parliament can be able to know which road in your district or in your constituency is going to be done.
This sector, as you all know, is responsible for road infrastructure, development and maintenance in the country; transport, planning and regulation. It is also the domain of the housing policy. The sector also houses the communication policy and regulates all operators in the communication industry to ensure equity, standards, regional balance and sustainable development.
The method used is the usual one. We analysed the policy statement, made field visits to Bugiri, Hoima, and Kiboga and Hoima roads. We discussed it with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, who is also the chairman of the steering committee road sector development programme. We also met ministers and technical staff and we interfaced and received memoranda from Members of Parliament for the road words in their constituencies. We also had thorough consultancy on the progress of the development of the national transport master plan.
On the basis of those visits and interactions, the committee appreciated a number of key milestones registered in the sector, and proceeded to make a number of observations and recommendations. Among the key milestones we have formulation of strategic investment plans. This sector has strategic investment plans, which all given the funds I think it would be able to deliver.
One of them is a ten-year road sector development programme, which will provide a sound road network by upgrading 1,672 kilometers of gravel roads to bitumen standard; construction of 21 kilometers of new roads and reconstruction of 490 kilometers of paved road. It will also establish a strong road administration and promote the development of the local construction industry.
Some of the projects that have been implemented or are in advanced stages are shown in the table on page 2.
We also have a ten-year district roads investment programme whose objectives are to improve access to rural and economically productive areas and to gradually build up the district road network planning and management capabilities. This total investment is about US $467 million, including about US $35.5 million investment for the dilapidated Kampala city roads.
Another one is the national transport master plan, including a master plan for the greater Kampala metropolitan area. Other investment plans include:
1. Inland water transport project,
2. Axle load control programme,
3. A 20-year investment programme for Entebbe International Airport,
4. National plan of action for human settlements development; and
5. Information and communication technology policy implementation strategy.
The investment plans are important for monitoring and evaluation and they guide in effective resource allocation; and:
i. Maintenance of the entire road network and bridges to motorable conditions.
ii. Procurement of equipment for districts. The ministry has consistently procured road equipment e.g. graders as per policy for each district in Uganda so that maintenance of urban and feeder roads is not compromised. For example Madam Speaker, on Friday, 27th of August the ministry will be distributing road equipment to districts of Wakiso, Mayuge and Kayunga and the process will continue.
iii. There is also procuring a ship for Kalangala islands. The Minister of Works launched the assembling of the ship at Portbell early this month and the ship is expected to be finalized in March next year. At least the people of Kalangala will now have safe means of transport with this project. The committee believes that after that ship is built, they could focus on other lakes like Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert and Lake George.
iv. Under air transport, last financial year alone seven Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) were concluded between Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, India, Germany, Iran, and DRC while that of Rwanda is being reviewed and that of South Africa is being finalized.
v. There is phenomenal growth in the communications sector. The sector has registered tremendous growth and the committee got assurance that by July 2005 all sub-counties in Uganda will have some form of communication facility with the outside world.
We made some observations and recommendations in each sub-sector, beginning with transport.
The transport sub-sector contributes immensely to the economic growth and poverty eradication in the country. An efficient transport infrastructure is vital to support economic growth and improvement of the quality of life of the population. The transport sub-sector policy aims at promoting efficient, safe and effective transport services to provide effective support for increased agricultural and industrial production, increased trade and tourism; and provide support to social and administrative services.
There are a number of observations we made but I will scan through them:
The committee observed that detailed information was lacking on the performance of the district and urban roads. It is not possible to establish which districts or regions are performing efficiently and effectively. However, it is gratifying that the Minister of Works is preparing an inventory on roads to be upgraded, from district roads to national roads, and the committee was of the view that we begin with one road from each constituency so that every Member of Parliament has a road to bring him to the main road to Parliament.
The recurrent budget of the sector has over time stabilized while the development budget to the sector - in percentage terms - has been going down. And while the budget to the sector is decreasing, the expectations and demands of the people are increasing and the presidential pledges for road construction are also rising. So, we are really at a loss in the sector. The fact is that this particular sector has no private people coming in. We will not compare it with Health or Education whereby private people are going in. The Government has been going it alone and yet the funds are going down.
Madam Speaker, the high cost of road works has continued to concern the committee. The committee learnt with appreciation that a study on the unit cost of road works is underway and would be completed before the end of this year. However, other concerns remain in terms of cost overruns and time revision of project implementation, which remain a cause of hemorrhage in the sector.
The committee observed that quality management must go hand in hand with cost management. The committee recommends that the ministry should publish market rates for materials in road construction to guide the districts.
Secondly, the ministry should step up its monitoring and evaluation mechanism, to be more efficient. The committee recommends that the Ministry of Finance releases funds to the Ministry of Works to purchase vehicles for station engineers so that they are able to effectively monitor road programmes in their areas.
Madam Speaker, road reserve policy. One of the major hindrances and cost to road works in this country is the element of compensation to property owners. Government has got to secure land from private owners before it makes or expands a road or even for purposes of extracting murram.
However, the committee observed the following weaknesses with regard to protection of the road reserves:
1. Even where government has made compensation, like on Entebbe road, those compensated have not been directed to leave the road reserve, and therefore could claim compensation again in the event of future expansion of the road.
2. Even those who have encroached on the road reserve like the owner of Jovenna Petrol Depot at Namanve, which is few meters from the main road, have not been brought to book; neither have their properties been demolished.
3. On top of that, Madam Speaker, the Government does not normally own titles to its roads. So, it remains a problem to us.
The committee recommends that the Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications should be more vigilant in the protection of the road reserves. Road reserves should be gazetted and the public sensitized against encroachment on road reserves.
Madam Speaker, honourable members, we looked at traffic congestion in Kampala City. The committee noted that Kampala City continues to suffer from traffic congestion. In addition, Kampala as a transit city suffers from transit traffic. The committee observed that whereas the Kampala-Northern by-pass, which will be inaugurated tomorrow, Thursday, would initially alleviate traffic jams in the city; this would be a temporary situation since Mukono and Kampala are soon joining up. In addition to the Kampala City Council steps of converting a number of roadsA System Error Occur. Please reload page