By Bazio Doreen and Marko Taibot

A section of the refugees from Maaji I Refugee Settlement, in Ukusijoni Sub County, Adjumani District, have hailed the Government of Uganda and the World Bank for heeding to their cry for a better road that connects them to many service points.

The 20.59km Kulukulu-Zoka road that is worth shs 2,231,356,352/= is funded by the World Bank under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Additional Funding (USMID-AF) that started in June 2024 and was intended to end on December 31st, 2023.

Moses Jibi, 65, a refugee who came to Uganda in 1994 attest that, in the past, the road was in bad state rendering it impassable during rain seasons.

“The road had a lot of potholes, it was very difficult to take sick person especially at night due to the bad road, at least this time we are able to transport our goods, movement is now easy,” Moses noted.

Zainab Baako, another refugee from Maaji I also explains that the road has been a threat especially while transporting pregnant women to deliver at a health facility.

“In the past, due to poor roads, we have lost babies on the road, but we are now happy that we have got a very good road finally,” Zainab reveals.

Mary Abe, 34, also notes that the road will now help them when it comes to referrals to other health facilities.

“Ukusijioni is a remote area with poor roads and this obviously affects referrals especially during the rainy season when the roads are in a terrible state,” Abe notes.

Mansur Alumai, a peasant farmer from Bekeri Village, Ayiri Parish, Ukusijoni Sub County, observed that the road will help them transport their produce to the market.

“We have been selling our produce cheaply because the road was very poor, now we are beginning to enjoy the road, for many years we have been in trouble particularly during rainy season,” says Alumai.

Hon. Dominic Arambe, the LC III Chairperson, Ukusijoni Sub County, during an interview told journalists the people of Ukusijioni said the good road was long overdue because so many of them were facing challenges in accessing basic social services.

“My prayer is that farmers can now have access to their farm and increase productivity, and the road can transform them economically. Our people are still very poor,” Arambe stated.

He also added that they are targeting the second phase of USMID and other government programs like DRDIP, to open more access roads to farms and other social service points.

The 20.59 kilometer road rehabilitation was awarded to BLD Construction Company limited. Eng. Fred Ijjo, the Site Engineer working with BLD observed that, the road has a guarantee of two or three months which he notes will help improve services.

“We have done the work according to the design that was given, we have a defect liability period of three months that ends by February 2024,” Ijjo said.

Mindra Francis, the Senior Assistant Secretary (SACAO), Ukusijoni Sub County, acknowledges that the road rehabilitation is one of the kept promises and priority of the sub county that will help connect refugees and nationals to many service point.

Mr. Nick Afayo, the District Engineer, says that the road is almost 98% complete and it’s expected to be handed over in January 2024.

The Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) program is designed as a Program-for-Results (PforR) program building on the Local Government Management and Service Delivery (LGMSD) program- a performance base grant (PBG) program which was piloted by the Bank under the first LG Development Program (LGDP I) in selected districts and later scaled nationally to cover the entire LGs system in Uganda with funding from the Bank and other development partners.