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Govt postpones launch of UGX380b tourism institute

Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu. (PHOTO/FILE)

KAMPALA – Commissioning of the USD102.5m (Shs385b) three-star application hotel at the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) in Jinja District, which was slated for April 10, has been deferred to September.

On April 10, 2018, the Minister of 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, which was supposed to be completed within 12 months.

The facility is funded by the World Bank (USD100m) and Ugandan Government (USD2.5m), while construction is being undertaken by Roko Construction Limited, supervision 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 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 (NEMA).

“Also, the contractor has to mobilize 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.

Adding: “We are on course, the superstructure is done, completion works are at 60 per cent and we are currently doing fittings like electricity, the lift 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 specializes in hotel and hospitality, the government sought it prudent to develop the facility so as to improve on the quality of the staff.

Ms. Miriam Namutosi, the institute’s Principal, confirmed that an extension up to September was requested and approved, and they now expect the contractor to have completed construction by then.

She, however, 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 the 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 added that the institute is grappling with ‘teaching’ driving lessons without a car because the one they have is very old and not in good mechanical condition.

“Currently we are hiring external or commercial driving schools; what we do is that we take the students to learn the practicals from there while the theories are done from here.

“Of course while there they are not given the time they would have got if they were doing the practicals from the institution,” she said.

Adding: “We also don’t have control over how much they charge. Remember, we have a contract with the students to teach them how to drive at a specific fee; so when the driving school increases on the fees, we have to find a way of topping up.”

Other challenges, Ms. Namutosi said, include inadequate food production equipment like ovens.

The old structure, she said will most likely be demolished upon the completion of the new facility because most offices and operations will be shifted to the new structure.

The facility, once completed, will comprise of 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.

Speaking to this website on September 17, 2018, Ms. Namutosi said construction was at 18 per cent and was optimistic that the April 10, 2019 deadline would be met.

“So far the foundation is done, columns have been erected and the building is out of the ground,” she said, allaying any fears that they would end up behind schedule.

“Usually the foundation takes a long time but once that is done all is a crash program and I am very optimistic we shall beat the deadline,” she added.

Ms. Namutosi, however, implored the government to improve on funding to the institution so that all that has been designed is put in place.

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 nonresidents.

“To be in tandem with international standards, a national curriculum has been designed and approved by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education (UNCHE) and is ready to be rolled out,” Ms Namutosi said.

She added that there is a Technical Advisor hired to advise the government on how to turn the institute into a modern hotel training hub.

Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja. (PHOTO/FILE)

About the project

The project is supporting the implementation of business environment reforms in Business Registration and Licensing, Land Administration and Management, Tourism Competitiveness Development and enterprise development through the provision of matching grants to private sector enterprises. The aim of the project is to ultimately create a conducive business environment that will enhance Uganda’s competitiveness.

A number of activities have been undertaken under the project to support the tourism sector including the provision of transport facilities to Uganda Wildlife Authority, tourism promotion through the hire of PR firms and supporting a number of exhibitions, curriculum review and development of policies that will support the growth of the tourism sector.

The Government of Uganda in 2014 received credit from the World Bank towards the implementation of the CEDP, with an objective of improving the competitiveness of enterprises in Uganda through supporting reforms in priority productive and service sectors geared, all towards a better investment climate with particular focus on MSMEs.

The 5-year project comprises of four major components and is implemented by seven agencies namely: Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority and The Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI).

However, the government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, delegated the overall coordination of the Project to PSFU through a Project Coordination Unit (PCU).

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