Jinja. Completion of the $102.5m (Shs382b) three-star hotel at the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) in Jinja District, earlier set for April 10, has been deferred to September.
On April 10, 2018, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, led a team of government officials and other partners on a ground-breaking ceremony to kick-start construction of the hotel, which was supposed to be completed within 12 months.
The facility is co-funded by the World Bank ($100m or about Shs373b) and Ugandan Government ($2.5m or about Shs9b). Construction is being undertaken by Roko Construction Limited, supervised by Arch Design Limited, whereas Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP) are the borrower’s representatives.
The CEDP project coordinator, Dr John-Marie Kyewalabye, in a telephone interview with this newspaper on Wednesday, said completion of the facility is behind schedule because of the two months they lost before the actual works commenced.
“When a contractor gets to a site, there are things he must comply with, which are mandatory like environmental social safeguards, which are sanctioned by the National Environment Management Authority.
“Also, the contractor has to mobilise people and equipment; all this is part of what happens in the cycle. Then, some redesigns were undertaken, which needed time to be approved and there was need to undertake a review of boundaries for the hotel land,” he explained.
He added: “We are on course, the superstructure is done, completion works are at 60 per cent and we are currently doing fittings such as electricity, the lifts and water, hoping that landscaping will be done during this period.”
According to Dr Kyewalabye, they are not merely delivering a building, but also furnishings with cutlery.
Since UHTTI is the only government institution which specialises in hotel and hospitality, government deemed it prudent to develop the facility so as to improve the quality of the staff.
Ms Miriam Namutosi, the institute’s principal, said the delay has affected their operations because the current intake, which started on April 8, was planned in such a way that by the time students report, they would find the training kitchens and training restaurants in place.
“This delay forced us to find other contingency measures as we wait for the facility to be completed in September,” she said.
Ms Namutosi also lamented the other challenges the institute is grappling with, for example the lack of cars for conducting driving lessons. She said the institution has only one car for practical driving lessons, which is also very old and in poor mechanical condition.
“Currently, we are hiring external or commercial driving schools to help with practical driving lessons,” she said.
The facility, once completed, will comprise a 50-room hotel block, a 321-seater conference hall, 100-seater bar and coffee terrace, two student demonstration kitchens, training restaurants and a laundry block to provide the hospitality students with hands-on experience on modern facilities.
According to Ms Namutosi, after completion of the project, student enrolment is expected to eclipse the current enrolment capacity of 450 students and grow to about 680 students for both residents and non-residents.
“To be in tandem with international standards, a national curriculum has been designed and approved by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education and is ready to be rolled out,” Ms Namutosi said.
She added that there is a Technical Advisor hired to advise government on how to turn the institute into a modern hotel training hub.