President Museveni has launched a $600m (about Shs2 trillion) Sino-Uganda Industrial park in Mbale District with a stern call to remaining squatters to vacate the government land.
The presidential directive reportedly seeks to speed up job creation in the country.
A consortium of eight Chinese enterprises last year signed agreements with Tian Tang Group headed by Mr Paul Zang, to invest in Mbale Industrial Park, eastern Uganda.
In 2008, the government acquired 619 acres of land from Bugisu Corporative Union (BCU) at Shs9b and asked Tian Tang Group to develop a modern industrial park in the area.
However, about 200 squatters from Doho Nsambya, Makumbo and Masanda villages were paid but did not leave the land, hampering efforts to complete the development of the park.
“I ask people to vacate freely. I don’t want to use force. I paid them, although they were not the owners because the land belonged to Bugisu Cooperative Union,” the President said.
Mr Museveni was the chief guest at the ground-breaking ceremony, which took place at Doko Nsambya village in Mbale District on Friday.
The park, with a total investment of more than $600m (more than Shs2.2 trillion), is expected to house 55 factories and create 15,000 jobs for Ugandans. The new Industrial Park is in Bukasakya Sub-county in Mbale District.
On industrialisation, President Museveni vowed to turn Mbale into a town of industries, producing steel products using raw materials, phones, among others, which will create more job opportunities and bolster its chances of becoming a city.
“Mbale cannot become a city when it’s filled with shops dealing in selling phones, razorblades and paraffin instead of factories that manufacture goods and services for export,” the president said, adding that traditional town like Lira, Soroti and Mbale are towns of shops yet their leaders are pushing for city status. The president disparaged “cities of shops”.
The president also said the investors establishing industries in traditional towns and others areas in the country will be given 10-year-tax holiday for all manufacturing including agricultural processing.
Investment minister Evelyn Anite told the President that Mbale Business and Industrial Park is one of the 22 parks earmarked by the government for development across the country to spur industrial production as a precursor to job creation and equitable economic transformation of all regions by 2020.
“We already have 11 industrial parks established in different part of the country,” Ms Anite said, adding that already 30 investors have signed Memorandum of Understanding with the government to establish factories in Mbale.
She also reported that exports from the country have drastically increased due to establishment of industries.
Mr Zang, the chairperson of Tian Tang Group of companies, said the establishment of industries will facilitate economic development in the country. He applauded the government for promoting peace and stability.
KEY ISSUES AT HAND
The eight Chinese companies have so far signed MoUs with Tian Tang Group to invest in; fruit processing and beverage production, rice processing and production, sanitation supplies manufacturing, wood processing and furniture manufacturing, glass manufacturing, household appliances manufacturing and solar pumping system, among others.
The investors led by Tian Tang Group and Sinoma, a company that is going to establish a cement factory also in Mbale are expected to visit the country in August on a fact-finding mission. Tian Tang Group is working with the Finance ministry to bring investors to Uganda.