The government of Uganda is yet to meet its monthly collection target of Shs7.5 billion shillings from tolling the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway. Between January 8, 2022, when tolls started, and July 31, 2022, Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA only collected close to Shs20 billion in tolls on the expressway.
UNRA contracted the French firm Egis to collect the toll fees and maintain the road on behalf of the authority. The expressway, which connects from Kampala’s northern bypass at Busega to the Old Entebbe road at Mpala, costs between Shs3,000 and Shs18,000 per trip.The collections are meant to service the US$350 million loan the government acquired from the Exim Bank of China to construct the 51.4-kilometer expressway.
According to the loan agreement, the repayment schedule runs from July 21, 2019, to January 21, 2032. In the 13-year repayment period, the government plans to pay USD26.8 million (about Shs95 billion) every year. This means that the government should collect at least Shs7.8 billion monthly to meet the loan obligation.
But the monthly collections are still below the target. The government should have collected at least Shillings 54.6 billion in the last seven months. But the latest figures from UNRA show a shortfall of 35.1 billion since it only collected 19.5 billion from January to July this year. Joy Nabasa, the public relations of Egis, says the firm collected Shs19,492,474,800 from 4,103,806 passages between January 8 and July 31, 2022.
In the seven months, the firm collected an average of Shs2.7 billion from 586,258 passages per month. This implies that there were 20,116 passages per day. Nabasa explained that during the first seven months, each of the three toll gates located in Mpala, Busega, and Kajjansi recorded an average of 6,705 passages daily.
Allan Ssempebwa, the communications officer at UNRA, says the ministry of finance is in charge of the loan repayment modalities since the toll fees are collected and deposited in the Consolidated Fund. He says, however, that an average of 20,000 passages made daily has surpassed the projected daily average of 13,000 passages.
These include incoming and outgoing air passengers, taxi operators, visitors, and Entebbe residents. Ssempebwa says the number of passages has been increasing from 480,234 passages in January to 574,629 in February, 594,124 in March, 557,066 in April, and 627,479 in May 2022. The numbers decreased in June and July to 590,582 and 594,775 passages, respectively.
According to Nabasa, May recorded the highest amount of revenue collected, which is Shs2.9 billion from 627,479 passages, followed by March with Shs2.9 billion from 631,861 passages. In June, Ssempebwa said that the ever-increasing traffic on the road is an indicator that it is not a “white elephant” as perceived by some sections of the public when the government announced plans to toll the expressway.
“The more passages, the more money we will collect to repay the loan and operate and maintain the road,” he said. Taxi operators led by Peter Kavuma and Yasin Kyeyune of Fly Express Travelers Uganda Ltd. laud Egis for making it easier for card users to pay the toll fees upfront via mobile money. Cardholders pay per week or monthly at discounted prices. The motorists, however, decry the lack of streetlights along the expressway.
Kyeyune, who represents Kitooro Central and Kiwafu West on Entebbe Municipal Council, says it is risky to use the expressway at night, even though the number of thefts and murders has reduced in the last two years. He says Fly Express Travelers Uganda Ltd has 60 vehicles, which make an average of four trips a day, making them one of the frequent users of the toll road.