The State House Comptroller, Ruth Nakyobe has revealed that the Presidential initiative to establish 20 regional industrial parks across the country is finally coming to fruition after Cabinet approved the Shs 130bn required for implementing the project.
While on a countrywide tour promoting wealth creation in July this year, President Yoweri Museveni pledged that government would establish industrial parks in each of the regions of the country.
The industrial park in the Ankole zone will be serving 12 districts. In addition to availing space and critical utilities for big and small industries, the park will as well have a component of technical and vocational skills development in a bid to address the problem of unemployment, Nakyobe revealed Friday.
She said this while in Mbarara where she met with Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), district chairpersons and other technocrats. During the meeting, Nakyobe who was accompanied by Ben Kumumanya, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, briefed the local government officials on the objectives of these parks and the expected impact.
The State House Comptroller noted that the initiative will cater for the skilling of youths and women in the country.
“This project is going to be set up by State House with funding from government. After we have established the park, we are going to hand it over to you to manage it,” said Nakyobe.
She says each of these parks across the country will contain facilities equipped with machines to help in setting up carpentry workshops, tailoring, welding, weaving, knitting, shoe making, bakery, and stone cutting.
“We are going to set up the industrial parks and we shall skill people in these various activities,” she said.
Mbarara will host the industrial park to serve the Ankole sub-region. She however warned district officials to be keen on ensuring equitable distribution of the skilling opportunities across the sub-region irrespective of their political affiliation, tribal or religious differences.
“I don’t want Mbarara to monopolize and take a big share simply because it is the host. The selection should be done by the zonal committee equitably depending on the numbers of the population in the districts,” said Nakyobe.
“This is a developmental program and development is for everyone. So, I don’t expect anybody being selected according to their colors. The politicians who are here, don’t go selecting your campaign managers and leaving out people who never voted for you”.
The skilling program will be free and trainees will be provided with accommodation and food, she said.
“Because of the long distances involved from various districts to the centre, we shall endeavor to provide accommodation and feeding to the people who will be skilled,” Nakyobe said.
She further revealed that in the same industrial parks, the President intends to set up facilities for value addition depending on the specific comparative advantage for the particular area.
“We are going to set up value addition industries basing on what you are good at in the zones. If Mbarara gives us enough land, we shall also set up a 4-acre model plot for those who are not involved in activities like welding to learn modern agricultural methods,” Nakyobe explained.
Chief Administrative Officers, who will be supervising this project once it is operational, risk being relieved of their duties should they neglect their oversight role, Nakyobe said.
“(CAOs) I have been told to warn you that if you still want to be CAOs, you are expected to handle it (project) very well just like you handle your monies and assets. Whoever fails the project will see the exit. Unfortunately there will be no excuse for failing to manage it”.
“And I don’t want CAOs to think they will run away from Mbarara. This project is everywhere in Uganda, so you run away from Mbarara, you will find it in Karamoja or Fort Portal. It has come, it is part of you, embrace it, love it, and prepare for it,” she cautioned.
Nathan Ahimbisibwe, the CAO of Ibanda district welcomed the Presidential initiative and promised his total support for its sustainability.
“For us, we are shock absorbers and we are ready to take it up and support it,” said Ahimbisibwe.
However, the Deputy District Chairman for Mbarara, Godfrey Baryomunsi expressed concern over Nakyobe’s revelation that the trainees will not receive any documentation to prove that they underwent training.
“When we go to Kyankwanzi, we train like for about a month and get certificates. So, what will happen to these people we are training but who have no piece of identification in case they are to work in other countries?” Baryomunsi queried.
Nakyobe said the decision to not issue certificate or organizes commissioning ceremonies for the trainees is informed by the limited funding by government.