Road constructors in Uganda have been urged to increase the use of locally manufactured materials to lower the unit cost of roads. This will allow the government to increase investment in road network to spur economic development. Speaking during a presentation on alternative use of cement at the Hima Cement offices in Kampala, Eng. Tom Waiharo of Bamburi Cement, the parent company of Hima, said road construction by its very nature requires the haulage of bulky materials and soils to achieve the proper formation level and ensure adequate drainage.
"Haulage of these materials forms a significant cost of the road. Any roads design engineer will tell you that there should be minimum haulage of all roadwork materials for the economic construction of the road," he said. "It is in this context that all effort should be made to utilise locally manufactured construction materials for the obvious cost saving that they provide," he added.
He said Uganda has been using imported lime as the primary stabilising agent. Lime is available locally though studies show that the quality is both varied and inconsistent. A lot of investment and improved quality assurance need to be done to enable the local industry compete with imported lime. However, cement is available in adequate supplies locally and can be used as a more viable stabilising agent.
Uganda has two plants strategically located in Tororo district (Eastern region) and Hima (Western region) so any part of the country can be served economically.
Waiharo said cement has been proven the world over to be a more effective stabilisation agent and its use has resulted in stronger and increased life of roads. The cement industry in Uganda directly employs over 1,000 people and indirectly employs thousands of others in supporting industries. It is also one of the significant contributors to the exchequer. "Policy makers should therefore constantly challenge themselves as to the most optimal solution of providing adequate road infrastructure to this country," he said.