Unknown people have started vandalizing road construction signs and rails fitted along the Masaka-Mbarara highway. This 150km road connecting the two towns has just undergone maintenance with fresh tarmac and guard rails in some stretches to prevent vehicles slipping off the road.
This 150km road connectingthe two towns has just undergone maintenance with fresh tarmac and guard rails in some stretches to prevent vehicles slipping off the road.
In 2008 the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) issued a three-year contract at a cost of 237 billion shillings to a Nigerian firm, Reynolds Construction Company, to have the road fixed.
But hardly a year after completion, unknown individuals have started vandalizing the guard rails and road signs for their private use.
For instance in Nyendo Township in Masaka district, several of these guard rails and road signs have gone missing.
Hassan Lubega, a boda boda cyclist says that each day more of these materials are unfitted by unknown people. He suspects that the vandalism is done at night by the labourers hired by UNRA during the road construction, arguing that they fitted the rails themselves.
Lubega says that the materials of the rails are Aluminum which is of value and often sold to builders for toilet bridging especially in schools.
Yasin Mugerwa, a resident reveals that two riders where knocked dead recently as they recklessly entered the road at a spot where the rails were removed. Mugerwa says the market for the stolen materials is only in big towns with recycling industries, saying that the vandals are not local residents in the district.
Coincidentally, residents in Nyendo have used the chance of the stolen rails to re-open the tributaries the contractors had blocked during their works. In some junctions Boda-boda stages have been opened up, and some have also been used as road side vending points.
When contacted, Dan Alinange, the UNRA publicist, said that the materials lost are expensive and apparently the Authority currently has no money to replace them.
He also says that the vice is becoming rampant on all new roads countrywide, citing Kabale-Kisoro, Soroti-Lira, the northern by-pass in Kampala among others.
He had blamed police and the public of not supporting UNRA in controlling the vice.
Alinange reveals that people have preferred stealing these aluminum rails to take them to recycling factories for manufacturing of saucepans.
Last month, UNRA revealed that it is erecting road signs using materials that aren’t attractive to vandals in order to improve road safety. The move, according to Alinange, stems from the stealing of vital road and warning signs along highways, including in national parks, which has resulted into tragic accidents.
The latest such accident was on the night of Friday November 16, when a KKT bus travelling from Koboko to Kampala rammed into an elephant on Karuma-Pakwach road killing eight people and injuring over 40 others. Despite being a newly tarmacked road, the road literally has no signs.
Alinange says UNRA is now designing road signs made of concrete, fibre and wood which are less attractive to vandals.