A section of residents and local leaders in Rukiga district want the government to declare the district “hard to reach” due to the poor road network. The government curbed Rukiga from Kabale district on July 1, 2017.
The district comprises Kamwezi sub-county with 6287 households, Kashambya 5929, Bukinda 2228, Rwaucucu 5490, Muhanga town council 2766, and Mparo town council 906, according to the latest records from the office of the Chief Administrative Officer and Physical Planning Department.
The district has a total road network of 659 kilometers. Ninety-one (91) kilometers of these are Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), 165 kilometers under the district, 95 kilometers under urban roads, and 308 kilometers are community access roads. However, both the local leaders and residents say that most of the roads in the district are in a very deplorable state.
They also say that some parishes, like Mukyogo in Kashambya sub-county, have no roads, which has affected the movement of goods and services. They argue that once the district is declared hard to reach, it may attract the government’s quick attention to upgrade some of the roads like the Muhanga-Kisiizi road and the Rutobo-Rwamatunguru-Kyogo road that President Yoweri Museveni pledged to tarmac during his 2001 political campaign.
Michael Kwarikunda Mbareeba, a resident of Hamuhonga in Kitojo parish, Rwamucucu sub-county, says that the state of the road network in the district is appalling. According to Kwarikunda, even the available roads are in a sorry state due to the lack of renovation. He says that the roads are always muddy and slippery whenever it rains and very dusty on sunny days.
Kwarikunda also says that he feels annoyed whenever he sees even the Muhanga-Kisiizi and Rutobo-Rwamatunguru-Kyogo roads that President Yoweri Museveni pledged to tarmac during his 2001 political campaign still filled with potholes. Kwarikunda also says that there are many parts in Nyakashebeya and Bucundura parishes in Kashambya sub-county and Noozi in Rwamucucu sub-county that completely have no road network.
Rutobo-Rwamatunguru-Kyogo, a resident of Kibanda parish in Kamwezi sub-county who is also the district male youth chairperson, says that whenever it rains, the Rutobo-Rwamatunguru-Kyogo road that connects Rutobo district to neighboring Rwanda becomes impassible.
Barigayomwe says that there are many other areas in Kamwezi and Ibumba, as well as Nyarurambi in Rwamucucu sub-counties that have no road connection at all. As a result, accessing such places is still a problem in this era.
Gideon Akampurira, the Bukinda sub-county LC V councilor, cites an example of an 8-kilometer Kandago-Kyerero road in Kandago parish as an alternative route to connect parts of Bukinda, Rwamucucu, and Kashambya sub-counties that have been in a sorry state for many years.
Akampurira says that he has reached the extent of his fear of going to Kandago since locals have always been angry at him for his failure to advocate for the rehabilitation of the road.
Robert Mbabazi Kakwerere, the Rukiga district LC 5 Chairperson, says that the performance of the district has always remained unconvincing due to the hard-to-reach nature of the area. He admits that as a district they are stuck on how to improve road infrastructure.
The Rukiga county member of parliament, says that despite the fact that they have worked on some of the roads connecting Bucundura in Kashambya, Kamusiza-to Kabimbiri in Bukinda, and Nyakagabaga in Rwamucucu using the road funds, the problem is still big due to the hilly terrain. He claims that locals are still struggling to get their goods into markets.
Henry Ariganyira Musasizi, Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development in charge of general duties, says that as the government thinks about the way forward, farmers should continue carrying produce on their heads to the nearest available roads for transportation to the bigger markets.