Search for private partners for Kampala-Jinja Expressway to start next month

The Uganda National Roads Authority and the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, are looking for potential funders for the proposed 77km Kampala-Jinja Expressway.

The four-lane toll highway from Kampala to Jinja is expected to cost $1.1 bn (approximately Shs3.9 trillion) through a public–private partnership, which means the government will find an investor to finance the highway,

Allen Kagina, the Unra executive director, told journalists on Tuesday that IFC, the transactional adviser on the project, is in the final stages of producing a comprehensive feasibility study for the project before the roads agency procures private partners and contractors.

The IFC was engaged by the government to structure a PPP transaction for the design, construction, and financing of both the Kampala-Jinja Expressway and the Kampala Southern Bypass. It is also responsible for structuring the project and its implementation.

The two projects will be constructed back to back. The Kampala Southern Bypass will be an 18km stretch starting at Butabika, on the eastern outskirts of Kampala, connecting to the Entebbe Expressway which is set to be completed in May 2018.

Sources familiar with the project say several players which include, among others, the European Union, African Development Bank and Agence Française de Développement, the French overseas development agency have so far expressed interest in funding the project.

Unra says the project will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will be the construction of 33km of the Kampala-Jinja mainline commencing at Lugogo and terminating at Namataba in Mukono. The Kampala Southern Bypass will also be constructed in the first phase.

Phase two will involve the construction of 43.7km of the Kampala-Jinja mainline from Namataba to Njeru in Jinja, where it will join the cable bridge currently under construction.

The Kampala-Jinja highway, en route to Kenya’s Mombasa port, is Uganda’s busiest road. It has a daily transit traffic of 2.2 million tonnes a day, according to official figures.

The drive time between Kampala and Jinja is expected to drop to 70 minutes once the new road is completed, from the current three hours. The project is expected to generate up to 1,500 jobs during construction and 250 jobs during operations and maintenance.

The KJE is among the key infrastructure projects government is looking at funding through PPP. Other projects include the $3.5 bn crude oil export pipeline to Tanzania and the $4 bn oil refinery.

The Public Private Partnership Act, which governs the relationship between government and private entities in public-private partnerships and provides guidelines and procedures for the development of PPP projects was assented by President Museveni in August 2015.

Besides the KJE, last year Unra released a plan containing several expressways that will be funded through public-private partnerships and will all be tolled. Others are the Kampala-Busunju Expressway, Kampala-Busega-Mpigi Expressway, Kampala Outerbelt and the Kampala-Bombo Expressway.