The government of China has availed Shs 601 million (USD 155,000) in financing to Uganda which will go towards equipping and refurbishing the Railway Polytechnic Institute in Tororo district.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Zheng Zhuqiang said that the project is aimed at building a professional technical school in Tororo which will improve Uganda’s capacity building.
He said the institute will provide the necessary talent pool for Uganda’s infrastructure especially the planned construction and maintenance of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
The Shs 601 million will be used to construct buildings (classrooms, workshops and laboratories).
Ambassador Zhuqiang was Wednesday afternoon speaking after a ceremony of signing and exchanging of documents with Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija for two projects. The other financing worth Shs 58 billion (USD 15 million) from China to Uganda will help government to acquire modern customs equipment (non-intrusive inspection scanners) for scanning cargo.
The Chinese Ambassador noted that the implementation of the two projects is a manifestation of the cooperation that exists between China and Uganda.
In his speech, the Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija expressed gratitude towards the government of China for extending the much needed support to Uganda.
He said that the Railway Polytechnic Institute will address the huddles that Uganda currently faces in construction and maintenance of road and railway infrastructure.
“Our biggest challenge today is the lack of capacity to handle roads. It is worse when it comes to the construction of the railway line. Therefore, this facility [polytechnic] comes in time before we start construction of the SGR from Malaba to Kampala,” Minister Kasaija said.
“We need Ugandans to construct this railway because hiring foreigners will cost us a lot of money, but also deprive Ugandans of employment opportunities,” he added.
The Minister said that the capacity which Uganda had built back in the 1960s and 70s was derailed by the long insurgency.
According to Mr Bageya Waiswa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, the construction for the Tororo Railway Polytechnic Institute was completed but the facility lacks equipment as well as refurbishment. It has a capacity to accommodate between 200 to 300 students.
“The Polytechnic is already operational. We have already trained the personnel from the army on the construction and operation of the railway. But we need to refurbish it so it can accommodate more students,” Mr Bageya said.
Commenting on the significance of the scanners for customs operations, the Finance Minister said the use of scienific methods such as x-ray scans will improve the performance and efficiency in tax collection by government. He said that acquisition of more scanners was not only a financial but also security benefit.
Recently, President Yoweri Museveni revealed plans by government to procure additional scanners to inhibit people including terrorists from smuggling guns and other weapons into the country.