ARUA. Mr. Stephen Andabati, a hardware dealer along Idi Amin road in River Oli Division, Arua Municipality is one of the businessmen reaping big from the tarmacked road in Arua town.
Andabati says before working on the road, he used to close his shop as early as 6:00 pm (East African Time). He said the road used to be dusty and dark at night, forcing many people to shun it.
“This road was so bad that people were not using it. You couldn’t find people along this street at night because of thieves and for that reason; I was closing my shop very early. But after tarmacking the road and solar street lights installed all over, the population on the street has since increased,” Andabati said in an interview on Tuesday.
“Now that people use the road almost throughout the night, we close at 10:00 pm and this has nearly doubled my daily sales,” said Andabati who on average makes shs1.5m up from shs800, 000 in a day.
Idi Amin road is one of the projects in Arua Municipality funded under Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) with support from the World Bank.
Arua Municipality is among the 14 Municipalities in Uganda that benefited from the initial USMID program that started in 2014 and ended in December 2018.
According to Mr. Cornelius Jobile, the Arua Municipality deputy town clerk, in total, they received 24 billion Ugandan shillings for infrastructure development under USMID program.
He said with the USMID funds, they managed to work on Enyau road, Idi Amin road, Lemerijua road, the Kamure Park round-about, and Old Joago road.
Jobile noted that there are other projects like the ongoing Duuka road construction works and the newly constructed modern taxi park that are also part of the USMID program.
“Over this period of USMID Phase I, we have managed to see an increase in the road network and an increased level of trade. Because of the good roads, we have made it so easy for people to move and that has facilitated the smooth flow of trade within Arua Municipality,” he noted.
“Generally, USMID program has enhanced the beauty of the Municipality. Previously, we used to have dusty roads but when USMID came in, it brought good roads which have contributed to the beautification of the Municipality since the roads came with street lights,” Jobile stressed.
He observed that once the taxi park is commissioned, it will enhance the Municipal’s local revenue because they will be getting additional funds in terms of the rental units and the parking fee.
“USMID has really changed the face of Arua Municipality and we are hopeful that the USMID additional funding (USMID Phase II) will increase our road network and also enhance the Municipality’s consolidated local revenue base which is now at shs3bn,” Jobile said.
Al-Hajj Isah Afeku Kato, the Arua Municipality Mayor equally attributed the current beauty of Arua town to the USMID program.
He said the tarmacked roads and the street lights have beautified Arua town, especially at night.
“We have really benefited from USMID program. People’s lives have changed in terms of business and health with many making more money now compared to those days when the roads used to be dusty,” said Kato.
Kato also noted that the value of land along USMID roads has gone up.
Garbage management and attitude of many of the municipality residents, however, remains a challenge in the authorities’ quest to maintain the beauty of the town which is also aspiring for city status.
Authorities will need to do a lot to change the attitude of the residents whose rubbish disposal habits leaves a lot to be desired.
But the return of a recent announcement by the municipality health inspector Mr. Norah Fuathum which calls for a keep Arua clean campaign on every last Thursday of the month could be a step in the right direction.