Covid deals heavy blow to Kitgum market works

Monday July 26 2021

Kitgum Central Market last week. The late delivery of construction materials and the outbreak of Covid-19 among the staff of the construction company that is building Kitgum Central Market has stalled the project. PHOTO/TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY

By Tobbias Jolly Owiny

Leaders in Kitgum District have blamed the delay on the completion of the central market on the shortage of manpower.
The Shs23.8 billion project, which is being undertaken by the Chinese State Construction Engineering Company Limited, was scheduled to be commissioned in April  but it has now been moved to November.

 By last week,  only Block A of the market had achieved more than 50 per cent physical progress while Block B sat at less than 40 per cent.
Mr Emmanuel Banya, the Kitgum Municipality Town Clerk, said the district recently shut down works at the facility after one of the staff of the construction company contracted Covid-19. 

“One of the Chinese nationals, who was a project staff, got Covid-19 and died. For purposes of controlling the spread of the disease, some of them were isolated and subsequently work had to be suspended,” Mr Banya said. 
Mr Banya said they had been forced to extend the dedline for the completion of the works to November but added that the market would not be ready for use until next year.  
“There is substantial completion and then we have total completion and I think by November, we shall have attained substantial completion about 90 per cent,” Mr Banya added. 
Mr Alexis Abonga, the Kitgum Municipal Council engineer, said the contractor was also facing a shortage of carpenters.

He said they had to get carpenters from other regions like Soroti District to expedite the construction works. 
An official from Saba Engineering Private Ltd Company, the supervising consultancy firm, who asked to remain anonymous, added that there was a shortage of nearly 140 casual labourers at the site and that the shortfall had delayed works by nearly four months. 
“If they could mobilise more workers, there could be night shifts and the work period will be closed faster,” he said.
Mr Wang Zhi Wei, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd site manager, said they were still struggling with the issue of manpower shortage. 
However, Mr William Komakech, the Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, attributed the delays to the experts who fail to conduct tests on materials on time. 

Mr Godfrey Tolit, the Central Division chairperson, said: “The market has been long overdue and its construction will end the animosity between the traders and municipal authorities.”
He added: “The situation under which these traders operate is quite risky especially with the current Covid-19 outbreak, they are congested on the streets.” 

About the market
The new market is being constructed under the second phase of the Market and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP) with funding from the African Development Bank. 
In 2019, the government awarded the contract to Chinese State Construction Engineering Company Limited to construct the facility valued at Shs23.8 billion. The works were to last 24 months with June as the commissioning deadline.   It will accommodate more than 1,300 vendors.