By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
Uganda’s President Museveni has defended the government move to construct a 223km road network inside the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Museveni said the move is badly needed by Uganda for her economic development and it will promote tourism spur trade between Uganda and DRC.
Addressing the country during an event to celebrate Uganda’s 58th independence held at State House in Entebbe on 9th October, Museveni said building the road network inside DRC will help the Uganda and connect it to its neighbors, Museveni laughed at those opposing the move calling them “shameless”.
“I saw some shameless people in parliament saying, this stupid man Museveni: why are you building roads in Congo yet our roads have problems. Yes, we have our poor roads here but also have good roads, ”Museveni said.
“How can you stop me from partnering with DRC to develop roads there that support our trade? The terrible roads are hindering business.”
Uganda cabinet recently approved the construction and upgrading of the national road from Kasindi section at the border to Beni (80km) and the integration of the Beni-Butembo axis(54km) to the national road and the Bunagana (border) to Ruchuru- Goma road (89km) but the move has since attracted condemnation from members of the public.
President Museveni emphasized the same, noting that if the road network is improved, trade between the two countries will be boosted.
“In order to build the bad ones, we need to trade with Congo. It will enable us get more resources to deal with the roads that we have not been able to do. How can anybody talk about this? It can even annoy our neighbours (to abandon the move. It is not good,” he noted.
The President added that the market factor is equally crucial noting that the Ugandan population of 42 million and that of the DRC of 80 million is not enough. He cited China as a country that has a guaranteed market of 1.3 billion people and yet Child is still struggling for markets in other countries.
“We need the market of all of Africa and there should be no taxes at the borders. What we need to concentrate on is the quality of production that can be done in the country where it is cheapest and there will be comparative advantages,” he said during a meeting with his DRC counterpart, Felix Tshisekedi in Kampala.
The construction of an improved road network will not only improve the stable relations between Uganda and DR Congo which have been enjoyed over the last decades, albeit complicated by security tensions in the eastern Congo but has also been touted to improve the security situation in the region.
Last year, the President said since Uganda has been on the growth path, a number of industries have been set up adding that the latest move will see Uganda get a bigger market as the volume of exports to DRC goes up, unlike before.
Museveni said the road network will ease movement of goods and other services between the two countries “so, when you produce, you supply goods, you supply services. But you also create jobs for the youth.”
The Minister for Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala last week said by 2018 trade between Uganda and DRC was at $ 532 million and that it has the potential to grow twice if the road infrastructure is improved.
Recently the Finance Ministry recently tabled a supplementary budget to the parliament of shs240 billion for the construction of roads.