Concerns are mounting in Uganda over the amount of debt the country has taken on to finance the construction of a 51-kilometer expressway connecting the country’s capital city and its international airport, according to Reuters.
The project, which should be completed in May, is being constructed by a Chinese company. It is just one infrastructure project China is undertaking in Uganda as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.
The $3 billion road will cut travel times between the airport and Kampala to 30 minutes from over two hours, yet many in the African country are questioning the value-for-money of the scheme.
Uganda’s Auditor General John Muwanga noted in a 2015 report that the road’s cost per lane per kilometer was double that of Ethiopia’s Addis-Adama Expressway, which was built by the same Chinese company, China Communications Construction Co.
“The project costs could have been much lower if the contractor had been procured through competitive bidding,” the report noted.
Concerns are mounting that Uganda may not be able to pay off the large debts it is racking up through its infrastructure binge. It has borrowed $11 billion in the decade since the World Bank wrote off $3.5 billion of its debt as part of a debt relief program. It is also in talks with China over a further $2.3 billion worth of projects.