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Army, Police battle Masaka residents demonstrating over poor road

A combined force of Police and Army has quelled a demonstration by residents of Nyendo, a Masaka Town suburb who were protesting the poor state of a busy road in the area.
The road, whose poor state prompted a demonstration, is the one that connects Nyendo suburb to Masaka Town.

Led by the area Division Council Ronald Kasekende, the residents who braved the Thursday morning downpour were demanding to know why the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has not bothered to fix the road despite numerous petitions sent to them.

The five kilometre stretch is the get way road to Masaka Town.
The angry residents blocked the road with logs and old car tires which they later set on fire thus paralyzing traffic on the road for the better part of Thursday morning.

The situation normalized after police and army officers from Armoured Brigade, Kasijjagirwa clobbered the demonstrators who were hurling stones at them and consequently arrested 11 ring leaders.

Mr Kasekende claims that the road was last rehabilitated in the late 1990s and it has not got any repair since then despite featuring on the last two national budgets.

“We would have demonstrated sometime back, but leaders led by the Resident District Commissioner have been telling us to stay calm claiming that the road is budgeted for repair this ending financial year, but nothing has been made yet the road is becoming worse by the day,” Mr Kasekende said.

Patrick Kalungi, a boda boda cyclist at Nyendo stage, said many lives of expectant mothers have been lost because of the poor state of Nyendo-Masaka road.
He says that motorists spend at least 30 minutes on a stretch that would take 5 minutes due to the potholes on the road.

Masaka Regional Police Spokesperson, Lameck Kigozi says that the demonstrators should have notified police before staging the demonstration.

“The decision by residents of Nyendo to block the road was uncalled for, because there are several proper channels they would use to show their dissatisfaction instead of blocking the road and disrupting traffic flow in the area,” he said.

In December last year, leaders in Masaka District forwarded a joint petition to President Museveni through the government Manifesto Implementation Unit under State House demanding that the issue of rehabilitating Nyendo-Masaka road be handled as a matter of urgency.

Masaka Municipality Mayor, Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo has on several occasions said the municipality could have rehabilitated the road like it has done on others, but it falls among the roads managed by UNRA.

“We are equally concerned about the poor state of the road, but as a municipality, we can only work on it if government authorizes us to divert some funds under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) Project, but the road is entirely under UNRA,” he said.

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