Was gov't hoodwinked on Mutukula regional market?
What you need to know:
- To prove his point, Mr Patrick Kintu Kisekuulo said some of the building materials such as sand, which had been put at the site, have since been removed.
- Upon completion, the market is expected to have 100 shelters, 1,000 warehouses, a five-star hotel, an international hospital, a daycare centre, six fuel stations, and lodges, among other facilities.
Kyotera District leaders have doubted the fast-tracking of the proposed Mutukula Regional Market, saying the promoters of the multi-billion project duped the government.
Mr Patrick Kintu Kisekuulo, the Kyotera District chairperson, said RUSBA Ltd, the firm behind the project, has right from the initial stages of the project exhibited a lack of capacity to put up a multi-billion regional market in the area.
To prove his point, Mr Kisekuulo said some of the building materials such as sand, which had been put at the site, have since been removed.
“What is on the ground clearly indicates that the government was duped, the people promoting this project lack capacity to build a regional market, maybe they meant a village market,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.
The Shs2 trillion project had started in 2020, but stalled a few months when Covid-19 struck the country. Degitech Energy Company Ltd, a South African firm, which was reported to finance the project pulled out over unknown reasons and Sino Hydro Corporations Ltd, a Chinese company reportedly took over.
Mr Kisekulo said the promoters of the project, including some ministers, are targeting the land as individuals. He, however, declined to name the ministers reportedly targeting land meant to house the market
“I have been receiving threats from some government officials who are pressuring me to surrender the land title, but I have refused to yield to their demands,” the district boss added.
Since the market project was unveiled in 2019, district leaders have been questioning the process through which the promoters acquired part of the 200 acres of land that the former insist is part of Sango Bay Estate land where the government plans to set up an oil palm project.
It is this impasse that has frustrated efforts by the promoters of the market project to acquire a land title, an approved building plan, and a physical master development plan.
Mr Karim Karamagi, the chief executive of RUSBA Ltd, said he is not surprised by the latest allegations by Mr Kisekuulo, saying the latter is part of the group of local leaders who decampaigned the project right from the start.
“Anyone criticising the regional market project doesn’t know what he is talking about. We recently had a meeting at Serena Hotel in Kampala. We are soon going to start construction works,” he said.
Mr Francis Mwebesa, the Minister for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, said he was out of the office and could not comment on the matter.
State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabazi, whose docket is directly responsible for the project, said: “I cannot give details about that project on the phone, you have to look for me and I direct you to the technical person.”
The project market works was launched on the Kyotera –Mutukula Road in April last year.
Upon completion, the market is expected to have 100 shelters, 1,000 warehouses, a five-star hotel, an international hospital, a daycare centre, six fuel stations, and lodges, among other facilities.
The market is expected to bring together manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers from all over the East African region.
Other markets such as Kapenguria, Makutano, Kacheliba, and Looro Market in Kenya, Ariwara Market in Congo, and Bunazi in Tanzania are expected to work closely with Mutukula Regional Market, according to Mr Karamagi.
It will operate every Tuesday and Friday and will have a livestock yard, where animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle will be kept temporarily for slaughter and sale on the local and international markets.
Mutukula sits at the extreme southern Kyotera District at the international border between Uganda and Tanzania. The town is approximately 225 kilometres by road from Kampala.