By Moses Sserwanga
Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye ,the Minister of Science Technology and Innovation has made an impassioned appeal to his colleagues in parliament to appropriate Ug.shs.44bn needed in the financial year 2019-2020 for Kiira Motors Corporation to continue with the construction of the vehicles production plant at the Jinja Industrial and business park as per the roadmap which was approved by cabinet.
While touring the site to acquaint himself with the progress of the construction work so far ,Dr Tumwesigye said the vehicles plant was a key government project of national strategic importance that it should not be delayed due to insufficient funding . “ Parliament should provide the needed funds for the construction works to continue . Once we start producing cars in Uganda ,we shall save a lot of money in dollars that we spent to import cars with end of life technologies . We shall balance our trade whichever way you look at it in economic terms ,” the Minister stated.
Cabinet last year approved the commercialization of the Kiira Electric vehicle project with funding of Ug. Shs. 143bn to be provided across a four year period from the financial year 2018-2021. So far only shs. 21bn has been released and out of the Ug.shs. 44bn expected in the next financial only Ug.shs. 24bn has been earmarked leaving a balance of Ug.shs.20bn which has not been provided for.
This short fall in funding , according to Dr. Tumwesigye, will adversely affect the implementation of the project which is being undertaken by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) the business army of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces ,(UPDF). Tumwesigye said there is a big growing market for the automotive industry and Uganda should be well positioned to take advantage of it and therefore the need to complete the vehicle production plant on schedule .
The Minister hailed Kiira Motors for leading by example in the commercialisation of its innovations. “Ugandans are so innovative but we don’t see much of their innovations on the market . Many of these innovations don’t get to the market due to bureaucracy and lack of capital . But Kiira Motors is on the right path to commercialization of its products and this is a major milestone that must not only be commended by supported by all,” he stressed .
The Minister who was received at the site by the Executive Chairman of Kiira Motors , Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa and the Kiira Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi, talked a lot about the KMC team , trusting it and about Ugandans believing in themselves and not rubbishing anything that is made in Uganda.
Lt. Gen. James Mugira, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer , of NEC, reminded the audience that the UPDF is not known for failure and its Engineering Brigade has the capacity and capabilities to complete the Kiira Motors Vehicles Plant even ahead of schedule if government through parliament provides the requisite funds .
“Success comes from within. UPDF has always reconnected with its identity as winners and this is a project of significant and strategic national importance that we cannot fail to deliver on time ,” the general emphasised .
Prof Tickodri-Togboa, highlighted what has been achieved so far including the construction and installation of a 3.7km long 33 kv medium voltage electricity line connecting the Kiira Vehicle Plant site to the national electricity grid and the construction and installation of a 5.4km long 6 inch water pipeline connecting the plant site to the municipal water supply system.
Prof.Tickodri noted that NEC shall employ 324 Ugandans for the execution of the project. Out the 324 employees ,180 are drawn from the UPDF Engineers Brigade/NEC and 144 from the local community in Jinja to provide causal labour . NEC shall also source construction materials including marram/gravel-840,000 tonnes , sand 800,000 tonnes , cement -5,000 toness aggregate 217,000 tonnes, hardcore -140,000 tonnes , timber , structural and reinforcement steel, iron sheets -52,000 sheets , chain-link, furniture , personal protective equipment , plumbing materials all estimated at over Ug.shs.28bn from within Uganda.
By Moses Sserwanga