Chris Byaruhanga

Chris Byaruhanga

I am currently working with Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) as a Network Planning Engineer under the Directorate of Network Planning and Engineering. I am responsible for collection of road network and bridge condition data (visual condition assessments and surface condition assessment using ROMDAS (Road Measurement Data Acquisition System) to determine roughness and rut depth, structural condition assessment using Falling weight Deflectometer (FWD), preparation, design and implementation of appropriate Asset Management Strategies and investment plans. Development of Road Investment Plans based on a rational asset management approach to optimize budgetary allocation and road asset renewal decisions. I am also responsible for updating and maintaining the road and bridge Asset Management systems as well as participation in the formulation of appropriate asset management policies. 

The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is a government agency mandated to develop and maintain the national roads network, advise the government on general roads policy, contribute to the addressing of national transport concerns, and perform certain other functions. UNRA is charged with, among other things, the selection of contractors, the supervision of construction, the scheduling of maintenance, and the prioritization of national roadworks. 

ITS exposed me to Transport Planning and Policy, Transport modelling, Transport Data Collection and Analysis, Deterioration and Maintenance of Infrastructure, Design of infrastructure, Traffic management, Public transport Planning and Management etc. due to a number of practical assignments during my postgraduate which are very useful to my current job and even in my previous employment. During the interview for my current position, I was asked a question about structural condition assessment; this obviously and much more is what I studied in the DAMP module; so I explained the use of FWD in assessing the structural condition and I thought maybe even the FWD was not known and used here in Uganda. Interestingly when I reported working, one of the first assignments involved the use of FWD. In addition, I have had a number of employment opportunities ever since my postgraduate study at Leeds.  

Before joining UNRA, I was working with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) as a Technical Specialist involved in supervision and monitoring the project works Under Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure project (KIIDP 2) funded by World bank. This involved dualling/upgrading of a number of roads and Signalization (Installing traffic lights) of Fairway, Kabila and Bwaise, Sir Apollo Kaggwa, Gaddafi, Nakulabye, Bukessa, and Kira Road Police Station. The area of interest in this was the signalization of junctions which I studied at Leeds University. KCCA is mandated, among other things, to plan, develop and maintain the city infrastructure. 

Previously I was working with Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) as a Civil Engineer where I was involved in supervision & monitoring of infrastructure construction, rehabilitation, repair/renovation or maintenance work performed by Contractors. Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) is a corporate body established under an act of parliament to construct, operate and maintain a railway, marine and road services both inside and outside Uganda for the carriage of passengers and goods. 

Therefore, in terms of professional growth and career, my interest is in Transport related Projects, particularly Planning, Programming, Monitoring and Evaluation. The above career growth and professional achievements are all attributed to the knowledge and skills from ITS. Finally, I would like to thank the University of Leeds that offered me the opportunity to undertake my postgraduate education which has exposed and offered me a number of employment opportunities. 

Transport planning and Engineering has so far been the most ignored and least studied area in most developing countries, especially in Uganda.  Therefore, a career in transport would guarantee me work both locally and internationally at various levels. Leeds University is well known internationally for transport-related studies. In addition the university is highly dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, exposes students to practical applications, knowledge, skills and exposure to transport infrastructure outside UK especially Europe ( Europe trip), delivers high quality education and being a home to a quite number of students regardless of their background and finally providing internationally recognized qualifications of the highest standard. 

Transport plays a key role in all our lives. It can also affect people’s lives in other ways such as noise, accidents and, increasingly, through emissions of greenhouse gases. Thus there is a need to strike the balance which has been neglected by some Planners and Engineers. Enabling transport to deliver the most benefit to our lives, and to those of future generations, requires careful planning which I believe is key to any country. Delivering sustainable and integrated transport systems for the future is one of the major challenges facing many countries. Surely we need Transport Planners and Engineers to take forward this mission, and therefore, a career in transport is one of the best choices a person can make now and forever. 

I highly recommend the employer visits to ITS. In my country, universities don’t usually organize such events. So it was a new experience for me and I really appreciated the importance of Employer visits. 

The highlight of my career so far is my current role at UNRA which relates so much to what I studied at ITS. Working with UNRA best suites me in my career growth since I studied Transport Planning and Engineering. I am able to relate and apply the knowledge, skills to my responsibilities, roles and key result areas. I am very proud to be part of the Network Planning team under the Directorate of Network Planning and Engineering that is involved in Managing road and bridge asset network data, Planning investment in the road network, Providing technical advice in road asset management in line with industry best practice and taking responsibility for upgrading, updating and maintaining the road and bridge Asset Management Systems and recommending appropriate Asset Management Strategies and investment plans. 

I used to participate in events organized by the university regarding career growth and opportunities by prospective employers most especially from the UK, this is actually a very good opportunity for students to get employed right after graduating. It was indeed a different experience altogether and that makes a difference to other universities and my home country experience. I remember having registered with a number of firms and job connection sites who still send me job alerts such as Ladders, Bright features etc. In fact, up to now I still have information from most of the employers in the UK. 

There is a very competitive advantage to any student who graduates from ITS, as it is a well-known university internationally. The employers out there are looking for skills and knowledge that is taught at ITS. I have seen each of the modules taught at the Institute are the respective areas of specialisation in the transport sector; so you have a variety of opportunities and a wider area of employment. Personally after graduating from Leeds at the very least; I can be employed as a Transport Economist, Transport Planner, Transport/Network Engineer, Traffic Engineer, Maintenance Engineer, Transport Infrastructure Engineer, Public Transport Specialist, etc. and of course with the postgraduate qualification to the Managerial positions of all these disciplines. The need to achieve sustainable economic development and considering the competition for jobs, a set of knowledge, skills and training in Transport Planning and Engineering is highly marketable and more relevant to developing countries.