KASESE: Welders in Kasese have been warned to come together to monitor and ascertain the quality of work of all their colleagues, as a way of insuring their work from being infiltrated by shoddy artisans.
The remarks were made by the Kasese Deputy RDC Joshua Masereka, while meeting a group of welders from Kilembe quarters, following several complaints by local consumers that materials made from their (Kilembe) quarters were substandard, and risked provoking mistrust of all welders in the locality.
Speaking to the welders, Masereka noted that they need to constantly adapt their skills to emerging standards in their trade, noting for example that people had moved on from using feet to using millimeters in measurements.
“Our country has advanced and many people no longer use feet but rather millimeters in their measurements but you may find that many of you do not know how many millimeters are in one foot. This undermines your ability to compete with other artisans in the country,” Masereka added.
Masereka, a trained Engineer himself, said he is disturbed to see people make substandard work in an area he has immense expertise and pledged to offer “free” training to the welders for the good of their work and the community.
He challenged the youth to stop despising their work saying that they were earning more than teachers who are certified with University degrees.
On average, a welded door in Kasese town fetches shs. 350,000 against an initial investment of shs. 250,000, and Maseraka argues that with a profit margin of shs. 100,000, a welder can earn shs.3million per month assuming one makes a door per day. “That’s way more than a teacher who earns shs. 400,000, or even a CAO(Chief Administrative Officer) who earns shs.1.8million,” he says.
He appealed to them to form amongst themselves a professional cooperative to strengthen their bargaining power and be able to market their work beyond Kasese’s borders.
Last month, on a visit to Kilembe secondary school, then State Minister for Gender Peace Mutuuzo revealed that government was to establish skilling schools in every district starting with the next financial year, calling upon the youth to embrace the opportunity to acquire tertiary skills from which they can earn extra income.
Through local Government efforts, Kasese District is already providing targeted training for a variety of vocational students and groups and is calling upon the Government to reinforce them.
“The major challenge is that most of these students have no money to push them through the course, which forces others to drop out. Others have no money to buy the safety gear,” Peter Muhindo, one of the trainers told theCooperator.
Muhindo revealed that the other challenge the active welders are facing is the failure by some government contractors to pay them in time. He pointed out the example of VS Hydro in Kyarumba, from whom he said the welders demand shs.20million.
Stanley Baluku, a secondary school teacher at Karusandara seed school who doubles as a welder told theCooperator that there has been a surge in the need of vocational skills in the district, and says he’s teaching his children to diversify their skill-sets.
I earn at least shs.1million from my welding workshop monthly, while my teaching salary is just shs. 600,000. I cannot then tell my children to exclusively aim for white-collar jobs,” he said.