KAMPALA- The Government, through ministry of works and transport is set to start constructing low volume roads across the country with bituminous sealing in order to save the environment and reduce on costs involved in conventional road construction.
Eng Monica Azuba, the minister of works and transport said the government has little money for maintenance of the roads and asked districts to adopt bituminous sealing of low volume roads in rural areas.
Eng Azuba who was October 30, officiating at the launch of the specifications and manuals for low cost seals on low volume roads said gravel surfaced roads cause dust pollution, adverse environmental degradation and health hazards.
She explained that unsealed earth and gravel roads are subject to rapid deterioration mainly due to non-traffic-related factors such as climate, terrain, soil conditions and ineffective maintenance thus resulting in huge annual maintenance costs.
“The fast depletion of the non-renewable gravel sources makes the rehabilitation and maintenance of the expanding road network unsustainable and as a ministry we are urging districts to adopt to the bituminous sealing of gravel roads to give them a lifespan of between 10 to 15 years,” said Eng Azuba.
Low volume roads are roads with traffic volumes of no more than 300 vehicles per day, have enormous impacts on economies, communication, and social interaction and that the roads comprise, at one end of the spectrum, farm-to-market roads, roads in developing countries.
Eng Samson Bagonza, the government engineer in chief said, increasingly scarce gravel deposits coupled with high cost of routine maintenance and environmental degradation have caused the ministry of works and transport to seek alternative surfacing solutions for low volume roads.
He said ministry of works and transport has already started constructing trial sections of bituminous concrete surface dressing of a 5km road in Mayuge, 10Km road in Kasese, 10Km road in Kayunga and another 12km road in Kamuli using a variety of natural and crushed aggregates with good results.
He revealed that between 2015 and 2010, government has a target of sealing with bituminous concrete 1000Km of low volume roads in the country and that they are ready to do at least 200km each financial year.
Eng Osama Kayima, the senior engineer roads, and bridges across the country said sealing of low volume roads with bituminous takes between Shs 250 to Shs 500m per Kilometre depending on where you are constructing the road.
“And conventional equipment based construction methods using heavy construction plant (graders, dozers, excavators, tippers, water bowsers, heavy vibrating rollers etc takes between Shs 1.5bilion to Shs 3b for a Kilometer of a road which makes bituminous sealing cost-effective,” said Eng Kayima.
He explained that the sealing of these roads, provide safe and reliable all-weather access, a smooth running surface for the motorized traffic and thus reduce the Vehicle Operating Costs (VOC), good skid resistance for safe driving at the designated speed limit and for breaking and stopping at safe distance for obstacles in the road, protect the pavement structure from wear and tear by traffic (wearing course) and protects the pavement structure from deterioration due to ingress of moisture in the pavement layers (waterproofing).
Eng Wilfred Okello, the commissioner for standards and highlights at the ministry of works and transport said low-cost bituminous seals promote the extensive use of local resources as it optimizes the creation of employment opportunities to the unemployed.
He explained that the sealing of gravel roads using appropriate designs conducive to labour-based work methods can reduce maintenance requirements while at the same time increase benefits to local economies.