The construction of the first Kampala Fly Over project is halfway complete, with major foundational works almost finalized. The contractor has now moved to less complicated works.
The road project which involves the construction of a flyover at Clock Tower, widening of Queens Way, Nsambya, and Mukwano roads, and improvements of interfacing roads and junctions is touted as a solution to the traffic jam and flooding at the clocktower area.
The 3.2-kilometer project that started last year involves the construction of a modern (clock tower) flyover, a four-lane Nsambya underpass, clock tower square, three pedestrian bridges, expansion of part of Nsambya, Kibuli, Mukwano and Ben Kiwanuka roads and upgrading of the drainage system around the clock tower.
The Government constructed Shimizu Konoike JV to undertake Lot One of the 3.2-kilometre projects.
Lot One stretches from the clock tower through Nsambya junction to Mukwano road.
Ryoichi Yamasaki, the project resident Engineer from Shimizu told URN during a guided tour of the project, that they have completed casting concrete works for the tunnel, erected pillars for the flyover, constructed the drainage system and are in the process of erecting passenger Passovers.
Drainage One of the main components of the Kampala Fly Over project is the drainage system intended to control flooding at the clock tower.
Eng Lawrence Payiro, the head of bridges and structures in Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) says the contractor has constructed two major box culverts; one running from the Pan African Square and the other near the Total petrol station to drain water from Katwe-Mengo and Nsambya respectively.
The new culverts replaced the old ones situated in two key areas, which engineers say have been a major source of flooding at the Clock tower. Eng Payiro explains that the newly constructed box culverts have a width of five meters and are different from the old cylindrical concrete culverts, which had a diameter of 600 to 900 mm.
Eng Payiro says there was a need to replace the old culverts because they were narrow considering a large amount of stormwater meant to clear through them and had been blocked by silt and garbage hence causing flooding.
Eng. Payiro says the new culverts are wide enough for a tall person to walk through and have the capacity to take in water 30 times as much as the old ones.
Besides the two box culverts, there are also 1.2-meter wide drainage channels along the road, which shall provide a pathway for stormwater from the flyover and the roads and eventually into Nakivubo Channel.
But, Eng Yamasaki notes that the drainage system as covered by the project is not sufficient to completely deal with the flooding question at the clock tower junction.
He says that the volume of water expected to be carried by the well-designed box culverts system will be huge but pouring water into a narrow and less developed Nakivubo channel.
The Police Fire and Rescue Department headquarters is in one of the low-level areas still susceptible to flooding. Eng Payiro however notes that they plan to raise the roads under this project to protect them from stormwater that could spill over from the Nakivubo channel during heavy downpours.
He says that the government needs to improve the Nakivubo Channel to totally mitigate the flooding challenge.
Widening the roads and the flyover
According to the designs, the project shall widen the queen’s way, Ggaba Road, Nsambya Road, Mengo Hill Roads.
It also covers the construction of a new road connecting from Kibuli to Ggaba road through the Police barrack just close to the road leading to Mestil Hotel.
The Queen’s way, which is currently two lanes shall be expanded to nine lanes. Two lanes for Rapid Bus Transport, four for evacuating traffic from the clock tower to Kibuye and three from Kibuye to the clock tower section.
The Flyover has two lanes, one taking vehicles to Mukwano road and the other from Mukwano road to Queens Way.
The tunnel located near Nsambya traffic lights also has four lanes, two on each side leading to and from town and the Mukwano area.
There shall be two signalization junctions, one at the clock tower and the other at Nsambya junction near the tunnel
Construction of the flyover is also underway.
The structure is being constructed using hollow steel tubes.
The concrete is being laid before other layers of the road, which include the asphalt are laid. Eng Pariyo says hollow steel tubes are used to minimize the amount of concrete used on the project.
“The steel tubes are lighter but as effective as concrete,” he explained.
Eng Pariyo says that having completed the drainage system, widening, grading and other earthworks for the road are already underway.
One of the practices that have affected the integrity of roads is punching and drilling part of them by utility companies to install wires and pipes.
To mitigate this, the Eng Payiro says the contractor has constructed 12 ducts (pipes) of 100mm in the roadside under walkways measuring between three to five meters to allow for any utility company to install their wires.
Another duct crosses from underneath to another side of the road to provide for utilities that need to be crossed from one side of the road to another.
The project also caters for pedestrians. There shall be a ring footbridge for pedestrians with four entrances, one accessed from Mengo road, then Shoprite area, Nsambya Road and then Queens Way.
There is also a pedestrian Passover near a few meters from the intercept of Kibuli Road and Mukwano road almost adjacent to the road leading to Mestil Hotel and another near Shoprite.
Eng. Pariyo says there will be guardrails to bar pedestrians from crossing the road such that they can use the pedestrian walkway. All expanded roads like Mukwano road, Ggaba and Queen’s way shall have walkways ranging between three to five meters wide.
COVID-19 and delays
According to the contract, the project could have been completed if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 interruptions. Available information indicates that the project is behind schedule by nine months.
Eng. Takemura Yuichi, a consultant on the project, says that when COVID-19 was rampant and restrictions high, they could not import some of the materials.
Other delays are linked to the low skills of workers in Uganda. Eng. Takemura says some wielding works turned out to be too complex for the locals hence requiring the contractor to import expatriates from Vietnam. Eng. Takemura Yuichi adds that some workers made reckless mistakes, forcing them to re-do the work.
Rainfall is another challenge that has cost the contractor nearly 72 days. Arthur Mijumbi, another resident engineer from UNRA notes that at times it rains and they have to redo sections that they had already compacted.
“After working on a section, there is always the warranted moisture level. When it rains this is disturbed and therefore we end up excavating the entire section to repeat the work to meet the required standard,” explained Mijumbi.
Safety at the Site
As works continue, workers are required to have protective gear which includes helmets, gumboots and gurgles among other items depending on the kind of work they do.
Eng. Charles Ogwang is the Health and Safety Manager for the project and heads a team of six other safety engineers who ensure that people at the sight are dressed appropriately for their safety.
The safety team also erects signage at the site to warn the public about dangerous areas, controls traffic and also establishes walkways for pedestrians to use at the sight.
Recently, the Executive Director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Allen Kagina noted that any delays to the project in question attract a fine of US$81,000 (about 300 million Shillings) per day in line with the terms of the contract.
UNRA supervisors are confident that by the end of this year this project will have been completed as they look forward to the second phase.