As Mbarara City and its neighboring districts warm up to receive a state-of-the-art industrial park, locals have been tipped to make the most of the soon-to-be-completed facility to improve their economic fortunes.
Mbarara industrial park is one of 27 Industrial & Business parks that the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) plans to construct in different parts of the country with the aim of boosting Uganda’s revenue base by creating jobs, easing accessibility of land for investments, and introducing new research, technologies and skills development opportunities..
Launched in October 2019, the park is supposed to serve 12 districts that constitute the so-called ‘Ankole Zone’, one of 20 such industrial zones around the country.
However the construction of 27 industrial and business parks set for completion in 2021 stalled on the way, with more than 13 industrial park lands in different districts lying idle.
The multi-billion project was commissioned by President Museveni in April 2020.
Christopher Ruyonga, the General Foreman, Seed Technical Services Ltd, which is in charge of works at the site, says that construction works are going on smoothly.
Despite encountering various obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruyonga hopes the project can be completed by the end of the year.
“We are yet to sit with the government to clarify what terms we are working on. If the government responds quickly we expect to finish by December,” he said.
He says the facility is seated on a 20-acre piece of land which was freely offered by the sub county, and will cost a total of Shs 3.5bn to complete. So far, more than Shs 2bn has already been spent on the project.
Progress of works
At the facility, most of the blocks have already been put up, including: bakery, tailoring, weaving, carpentry, welding and shoe making blocks, dormitories, staff quarters, kitchen and dining hall, urinals and so on..
“We have built several workshops where we expect young Ugandans to come and start doing tailoring, weaving, welding, carpentry and joinery, brick laying and concrete practice for both certificate courses and at vocational level,” says Ruyonga
Private investors will also receive the opportunity to benefit from the industrial park to process and take products both to the local and international market.
Ruyonga says the remaining works involve tarmacking the lanes within the park, installing the water system plus other additions by government.
“With electricity we have wired the place but are waiting for UMEME to bring the field line from a kilometer’s distance up to the hub,” he says.
Anticipated business boom
Steven Katanaka, the LC III chairperson Rubaya Sub County anticipates that the construction of an industrial park will bring about a business boom in the area.
“Those who will come to study from here will bring in money and our locals will tap that money through business and boost their household income as a result of this project,” says Katanaka.
He says the sub county is already handing over land to people willing to construct permanent shops and other rentals, adding that the government plans to institute a model irrigation farm that will benefit even neighboring districts.
“We want to put a demonstration model farm for the school which will operate under the irrigation system. It will be a demonstration farm for the people of Ankole region to start irrigation farming,” Katanaka says.
He therefore urged the general public, especially youths, to put the constructed facilities to the intended use.
“This is a big investment from the government, so I encourage people to get involved such that they can get jobs and skills.”
Jonas Muhanguzi, a resident of Kigoshura cell, Ruhumba parish, Rubaya Sub County, and father of four, says the industrial park will enable the low income earners to equip their children with hands-on skills that will enable them survive on the job market.
“It’s a chance for us wanainchi to take our children to learn skills that can enable them to employ themselves after their studies,” says Muhanguzi.
He hopes that even some of the locals will acquire extra skills and get jobs at the facility.
“For instance, I am a farmer, but when the facility is completed I could spare some time to join and learn how to make bricks and many other skills,” Muhanguzi added.
Among the fully completed operational industrial parks are: Luzira and Bweyogerere industrial parks, which process grains, fortified foods and manufacture tents, among others.
Twelve others in different districts are still under construction, such as one in Katuna, Kabale, but some such as Mbale, Namanve, Soroti, Kasese, Koboko, Jinja, Kabeeka, Liao-Shen, Mukono-, Lugazi and Buikwe have a few factories, which have been commissioned and are currently operational.
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