The Government is set to allocate maintenance contracts of over 4,500km’s of roads countrywide to local cooperatives in a bid to redistribute resources among the people.
These were previously tendered out to private contractors.
A study carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure, indicates that 275 cooperatives in all 30 districts, consisting of 12,490 members each, can be formed at the grassroots levels and given the task of doing simple maintenance in the country.
“We have been doing this but in form of food, where local people living by the roadside are given a chance to do simple road maintenance like slashing and then pay them rather than giving the money to entrepreneurs,” said Infrastructure Minister Linda Bihire.
“But now what we want to do it on a larger scale where it is possible. The people do the work and then they get the money.
We also emphasise that even when a contract is awarded to local or international companies, we give them a condition to employ local people,” she further explained.
She added that as a way of redistributing wealth and creating jobs, the ministry intends to let local communities take on simple tool road maintenance, especially for feeder roads, while the other two categories, major road works and rehabilitation which requires heavy machinery will be awarded to contractors under the new transport and road rehabilitation policy.
The country has about 14,000 km of both main tarmac and feeder roads linking all the 30 districts.
Once the cooperatives are established, the Ministry will carry out 5 training programmes aimed at providing residents with road maintenance skills in every district. It was observed that contractors who win tenders use local labour but pay them peanuts.
“We think that with close supervision by the ministry and district officials, these cooperatives can do the work and take the money which they can then distribute amongst themselves rather than giving it to one person,” Bihire said.
According to the ministry, this plan will also help keep the roads in good shape since maintenance will be decentralised and at the same time increase their household incomes as indicated under the Vision 2020 and the EDPRS.
According to the plan, no cooperative will be given above 10km of the classified roads and they will not be required to go through the tendering process-as it will be provided in the transport and road rehabilitation policy.