Assessment of the management of environmental and social safeguards in road infrastructure projects contracted by Chinese companies in Uganda: a case of package one of the critical oil roads
Karugaba, Brian Emmy
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This study assessed the management of environmental and social safeguards in road infrastructure projects contracted by Chinese companies in Uganda. The study was guided by three objectives which included examining the mapping processes and procedures through which environmental and social safeguards requirements are developed in the road sector, examining the environmental and social challenges caused by the construction of critical oil roads, and establishing the steps that can be taken by Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to improve environmental and social performance in road construction projects. The study used a cross-sectional research design with a sample size of 93 respondents where 04 were UNRA Project Management Team, 03 were staff of the Supervision Consultant, 03 were staff of the Contractor and 83 were Project Affected Persons (PAPs). Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources while using questionnaires and interview guides as primary tools for data collection. The study revealed that PAPs were involved in the mapping planning meeting where they were taken through the process of any possible displacement and how compensation would be handled. However, few meetings were organized with all stakeholders and those meetings did not mostly focus on equitable compensation and environmental protection. Furthermore, the study determined that construction of critical oil roads caused a lot of social and environmental challenges which included interrupting the social services like access to water, roads, electricity, and health among others, loss of land, emission of high levels of noise, and dust, air pollution, soil erosion, blocking drainage systems and loss of valuable vegetation. Lastly, it was revealed that using machines that emit fewer air pollutants, involving experts in assessing the impact of road construction on the environment and planting of trees and other vegetation along the constructed roads, assisting the displaced people to access titled land, compensation for all properties destroyed and giving the affected persons a fair relocation and start-up package can be key steps of improving environmental and social performance. The study recommended UNRA engage all stakeholders most especially relevant government institutions and PAPs in a series of meetings to make sure that the issues of equitable compensation and environmental protection are fully discussed and rightly implemented. Furthermore, the study recommended the government that gives the PAPs enough time to enable them to identify places where to relocate to. Additionally, the government should compensate the project-affected persons early before they are displaced to enable them to secure other ideal places where they can move with their families. Lastly, UNRA needs to examine its organizational aspects further to improve the integration of Environmental and Social safeguards into planning and implementation of road infrastructure development projects to allow smooth implementation of road construction projects.