Home Business & TechEconomy RTDA On Spot Over Road Quality Concerns

RTDA On Spot Over Road Quality Concerns

by Daniel Sabiiti
3:54 pm

Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) has been put on spot over failure to prioritize construction and rehabilitation of key national and feeder roads which connect communities, drive tourism activities, economic growth and development.

The Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing held April 30, referred to the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) report 2022-2023 to highlight these failures by the agency- to deliver infrastructure projects on time, supervise, maintain so as to realise value for money especially that government largely borrows from donors.

For example, during the hearing, the committee focused on the misunderstandings between RTDA and Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) on conducting required road Quality Assurance (QA) controls which left 5 major roads untested.

The roads are:Ngoma-Ramiro, Kibugabuga – Shinga -Gasoro, Pindura-Bweyeye, Nyamagabe Urban road, and Huye-Kitabi road- all funded by World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) among other donors  at a tune of Rwf139.54 billion.

“You never took these measurements yet the OAG indicated that there is a problem in the standards of these roads and yet you have someone in charge,” PAC Chairman MP Valens Muhakwa asked.

RTDA Director General, Imena Munyampenda explained that this is true but explained the quality controls are done by contractors on site.

Road quality control is normally done on Asphalt roads with 4 major samples which include density, compaction, air void, among others accounting for 50% of the tests done on-site, and the other 50% is taken to two separate laboratories- including RSB and University of Rwanda (UR) labs.

Munyampenda explained that 10% of the roads in the second lab test had issues and didn’t pass the tests, because one of the labs (RSB) didn’t use the American quality control test standard.

Munyampenda said that the American standard is part of the contract and it is actually commonly used by the agency. The problem however was raised in the 30% tests conducted at RSB using another test standard that is not part of the contract. Out of these, 10% of them failed.

Though Munyampenda didn’t explain how 20% of the tests passed at RSB labs, and 10% of the samples failed in the same lab which used “another standard measure”, a dispute between RSB and RTDA ensued and resulting to soliciting a third opinion lab test.

According to Munyampenda the 3rd opinion test lab will be agreed on next week.

“The 3rd party will help us to remove this, which I can call a “mismatch”. We agreed that they have their own methodology and so are we. So we shall agree on sampling; methodology, but also do it on other roads beyond the sampled ones,” Munyampenda said.

“This will take two or three months and a report will be submitted to parliament and to the Auditor General (AG),” Munyampenda added, saying that this means sampling five times….

However, MPs were not convinced with the explanation on how RTDA cannot work with a government authorized standards agency and sought the AG’s office for clarity.

The AG, Alexis Kamuhire intervened saying that he advised on the dispute and personally told RTDA to examine the failed quality tests- which were below standard- as seen from the results of another lab.

AG Kamuhire noted that the RTDA lab (which is in place) should be doing all this QA work, however the RTDA boss said that they are understaffed to an extent that they cannot do the test every two months as required. He said that at the moment, they can only afford the test exercise quarterly.

MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye advised both parties that instead of hustling each other, they should instead build a synergy within and task supervision companies to do their job well and if need be RTDA labs be equipped.

Dr. Leopold Mbereyaho, the RTDA Board Chairman and Lecturer at UR-College of Science and Technology, School of Engineering (Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering) explained that whatever the methodology, the application standards have to bring expected results (indicated in the contract) but warned that changing the criteria has direct impact on quality of roads.

A Quality Assurance technician at the OAG told parliament that failure to meet the required quality standards is one of the causes of the roads constructed- which end up getting damaged before the 20 year lifespan for all Asphalt roads in Rwanda.

For example, the OAG audit report showed deteriorating roads that need to be repaired included: Rusizi-Bugarama-Ruhwa roads (61km), Cyakabiri – Nyabikenke – Ndusu road, Kitabi-Nshili tea factory (15.09km).

RTDA DG said that the roads were largely affected by bad weather and heavy rains especially in the Northern and Western regions, but there is a plan to secure $80million from donors (to be approved soon) which will be focused on rehabilitating roads in the key regions.

Among the other damaged roads, RTDA said the Karongi road is a touristic area and it is a concern which will be considered.

“We have already signed an advance payment for ministry of finance, to cash the contractor, this rehab will take about 18months,” Munyampenda stated.

Others like the Bweyeye road- Munyampenda said it was delayed but they are doing elevation putting asphalt to resolve the issue where one kilometer remaining section and for the Rusizi bugarama, he said a feasibility study is done and they are in process of soliciting funding from World Bank.

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