• Francis Obonyo
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What you need to know about the Roads Act, 2019

Introduction

The Roads Act 2019 came into force following its publication on 25th September 2019 in the gazette and the Act repealed the Roads Act Cap. 358 and the Access to Roads Act, Cap. 350

Objective

The Act was put in place to ensure the following;

  • Reformation of the law relating to the development, management and maintenance of public roads.
  • To provide for the appointment of road authorities for the development, maintenance, control and management of different classes of public roads.
  • To provide for toll roads and the imposition of road tolls on certain public roads.
  • To provide for the classification of public roads.
  • To provide for the declaration, control and protection of road reserves on public roads.
  • To provide access to public roads.
  • To provide for axle load control on public roads.
  • To provide for the creation of an environment section for the road sector.
  • To provide for road safety.
  • To provide for offences and penalties.
  • To make provision for related matters.

Significant Highlights of the bill

  1. The Act empowers the Minister of Works and Transport in consultation with the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to declare toll roads and prescribe tolls payable in respect of these roads by a statutory instrument. Vehicles exempt from the toll include the Presidential convoy and emergency vehicles of the fire brigade and ambulances.
  2. The Act empowers the Minister of Works and Transport to provide for different widths for road reserves for the other classes of public roads. Under the old Roads Act, the width of a road reserve was set at fifty feet from the centre line of any road. The new provision allows for flexibility in determining the width of road reserves and can be wider depending on the classification of the road.
  3. The Act repeals the Access to Roads Act to consolidate the legal framework relating to roads in Uganda. The Act provides for the construction of an access road to a public road or highway through private property after compensation of the affected landowner. It also provides for control, location and design of access roads and introduces service roads, which run parallel to a highway and provide access to property bordering these roads, for purposes of limiting the number of access roads.
  4. The Act provides that acquisition of land, excavation and taking of materials required for road construction is to be done per the Constitution. Prompt acquisition of land has been a thorny area for the Government, and the muted response is disappointing.
  5. The Act designates road authorities responsible for construction, alteration, rehabilitation, maintenance, protection and supervision of roads falling within their jurisdiction. The Act has provided for the classification of roads for this purpose, with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) being responsible for national roads, local government councils for the district and community access roads, urban councils for urban roads and city authorities for city roads. Therefore, Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) will be responsible for roads within Kampala.
  6. The Act creates offences including destroying roads, obstruction and interference on roads such as the improper erection of billboards, clogging drains by depositing sewage, refuse or garbage, a nuisance on roads and offences relating to toll roads among others. Also, various offences have been removed from the Traffic and Road Safety Act and provided for under this Act. These include failure to comply with speed limits.

Conclusion

The Roads Act 2019 is in full, or force and its implementation has had a positive impact on the modernisation of Uganda’s road infrastructure.