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On the road to success in Uganda

Posted on by OgilvieGeomatics


The plan was to replace an existing track from Kabale to Kisoro with a newly resurfaced road - more suited to Mercedes trucks – and extend it onto the border with Rwanda and the Congo – a total of 110kms. A survey of the road corridor was needed as a basis for the design and set out. 

Dave and Peter observed the survey early last year. They worked with John William, of local engineering consultants Kagga & Partners, who ably assisted with resources and logistical support. With construction scheduled to start two months later and the rain season impending, they had to move quickly.

Existing survey control was limited to some government control stations buried on the outskirts of Kabale and some cadastral survey points in Kisoro. Static GPS techniques allowed the control framework to grow from east to west as a series of self checking loops. Approximately 40 pairs of concrete and steel pin permanent markers were established along the way, providing a control framework for future setting out. The points will also be of great use for cadastral surveyors. The team completed the detailed survey using a combination of real time kinematic GPS and conventional radial surveying using a total station.

Dave Bickerton takes up the story…

“Part way along the route, the road passes through seven kilometres of jungle and the famous bamboo forest! The monotony of the fabulous views was enlivened here by the occasional glimpse of monkeys crossing the road or swinging through the trees. Lacking the monkeys' speed and dexterity and due to obstruction of the satellite signals by the trees, we left one crew to survey through the jungle using the total station whilst the other continued with the RTK GPS beyond the forest.”

None of the local co-workers were surveyors or familiar with the equipment or techniques. A rapid learning curve and ‘on-the-job' training brought the team quickly up to speed with the total station and the RTK GPS. By the end of the project they were all adept at using and coding the instruments. One of the team, Charles, constructed every one of the 80 survey stations en route.

Another team member, Julius, was billed as a ‘mountain person’ with climbing undoubtedly in his blood as he was up and down the slopes with the target pole like a mountain goat.

The survey took seven weeks to complete and during that time Dave and Peter got to see and meet a lot of local people.

“Many of the local farmers were surprised by a scrabbling noise in the undergrowth followed by a hot and grimy surveyor popping up amongst their sweet potatoes,” explained Dave. “Many walked unimaginable distances along the track, often many miles to the nearest market carrying their produce on their head or loading impossible weights and even livestock on bicycles.

“Close to one local school we said ‘hello’ to some of the children whilst trying to establish a survey station. The following day we were mobbed by a crowd of the most delightful kids (with the kind of smile you only see in Africa ). We don't know who they thought we were, but we felt like royalty, with greetings and hand slapping all round.”

“The job was a real pleasure and Uganda is a beautiful part of the world with good natured and friendly people. I am sure the new road will be beneficial for everyone there.”


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