By Peter Ssebulime
The Lord Mayor His Worship Erias Lukwago on Tuesday morning appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry, where he raised salient issues concerning the proposed greater Kampala Mass Transit Bus Service, a project spearheaded by the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The issues Lukwago raised were;
Funding of the Project
Media reports have indicated that the government intends to bankroll the project with a loan facility from Exim Bank of India amounting to Shs600Bn. This fund will be channelled through Uganda Development Corporation to TONDEKA, a private limited liability company.
Lukwago said that “As part of its core mandate, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is charged with the duty of providing a robust, safe, reliable and affordable mass public transport. The KCCA Budget Framework Paper for FY2020/21 put our MTEF ceiling at Shs285Bn and no provision was made for the said project. Why wasn’t this fund channelled to KCCA as the government agency managing the city instead of a private entity or business?”
Ownership of TONDEKA
The Lord Mayor also told the Committee that “Incorporation, shareholding or ownership of “TONDEKA” Company which is at the forefront of rolling out the said project is still shrouded in a mystery.”
He noted that the legal relationship between “TONDEKA” and “KCCA” or Government of Uganda seems to be part of state classified information. “Is it a private-public partnership (PPP) arrangement, Joint Venture, Concessionaire, or franchise? Besides, the PPDA Act and other procurement regulations were flagrantly flouted,” Lukwago wondered.
Roles and Obligations of KCCA in this Project
About this crucial matter, the Lord Mayor said that no concept paper, project proposal, structural plan or any form of write-up has ever been presented to the Authority or the Office of the Lord Mayor for consideration.
Integration of the project into the KCCA Pans
He wondered how the Project will fit into the yet to-be-unveiled World Bank-funded multi-model Transport Plan for Kampala and the Metropolitan area, which, among other things, include a Light Metro, Railway system, Rapid Bus Transit System (RBT) etc. Lukwago observed that there is also a mis-match between the Tondeka Bus Project and the Proposed Kampala Bus Rapid Transit Project under the auspices of the Ministry of Works.
Appalling City Infrastructure
He also revealed that the project is likely to be stalled by the appalling infrastructure min Kampala, especially the poor, narrow and very congested roads. “Out of the 2100km of the entire city road network, only 608km is paved; and not wholly in good motorable condition. In the KCCA Budget framework paper for 2020/21 Government allocated a paltry sum of Shs30.5Bn for City Road fund, which is just a drop in the ocean,” Lukwago said. He added that “Besides, no arrangements have been made to provide the requisite structures like priority lanes, shelters, terminals, depots, digitalized or automated bus stops, etc.”
Synergy with other agencies and sector players
He revealed that mechanisms for integration or co-ordination with other sector players and service providers like Taxi Operators, Managers of Street Parking, NMT, Fly over Project etc have not yet been put in place.
He concluded by advising the patrons of the TONDEKA Bus Project to pick lessons from the Pioneer Easy Bus debacle so as to avoid taking the same road. However, Members of Parliament were astonished by these palpable and blatant questions that the current proposed enablers of Tondeka Bus Services have consciously shelved. The Committee later promised to get back to the Lord Mayor as soon as practicable in a period of less than one month, after conducting a thorough study of the project and all pertinent issues involved in it.