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Tough penalties for vandalism of road signs

MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko presented the committee report on the Roads Bill, 2019. (PHOTO/COURTESY)

KAMPALA – The Minister of State for Works, Gen Katumba Wamala has revealed that those found vandalizing road infrastructure will face tough penalties after the passing of the Roads Bill, 2018.

Gen.  Wamala who moved for second reading of the Bill on Tuesday, May 07 2019 said that law is also intended to ensure safety of road users as well as deal with cases of encroachment of road reserves and improve on the road network.

“There is need for stringent measures prescribed by regulations to ensure the safety of road users during construction, operation and maintenance of public roads, for example provision of pedestrian crossings, foot-ways, overhead bridges and  road furniture,” Gen Wamala said.

The Bill seeks to reform and amend laws relating to development, management and maintenance of public roads.

The Chairperson of the committee on Physical Infrastructure, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko said that the proposal to increase the road reserve to 40 metres will enhance the country’s development agenda.

“The Committee recommends that the Roads Authority should first acquire land in accordance with Article 26 of the Constitution and thereafter reserve after acquisition,” added MP Ssekitoleko.

He pointed out that synchronization of the country’s national axle load control is in line with the rest of the East African Community timing.

“In addition, axle load control will help protect roads from damage and increase their lifespan and ultimately give value for money,” he said.

Mr. Ssekitoleko noted that while the Bill had initially proposed hefty penalties as deterrent measures against various offenses, some penalties were exorbitant and unrealistic, and would render the law hard to implement.

“The Committee therefore proposes re-alignment of penalties to maintain their protectiveness, but also reflect realism and practicality,” Mr. Ssekitoleko.

According to the Bill, a person who fails to comply with a speed limit set by the Minister commits an offence and is liable, on conviction to a fine not exceeding ten thousand currency points, or imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both.

The Bill further provides that where any damage is caused to any bridge, road furniture or road pavement, the transporter shall compensate the relevant road authority for the damage and shall be liable for any costs, charges or expenses in that respect, including any axle or gross vehicle weight overload fines payable under the law.

Hon. Jonathan Odur in his minority report  argued that there was inadequate public consultation on the Bill.

“The committee had agreed to hold five regional consultative meetings in Western, Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern, but failed,” said Mr. Odur.

He added that the committee consulted only seven stakeholders, including Ministry of Works, Uganda National Roads Authority, Uganda Road Fund, Police and Uganda Human rights settlement network, which he said were not representative of the entire country.

“The committee leadership was repeatedly reminded to hold public hearings but disregarded the call.

The Bill should involve countrywide consultations because it has a huge bearing on the public, if enacted,” said Odur.

The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah deferred debate on the Bill to Wednesday, 8 May 2019.

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