MBARARA – In a bid to boost small scale enterprises and manufacturers, the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) – in partnership with Mbarara Municipality, have launched street market days in Mbarara.
They say that this is aiming at implementing the BUBU policy through supporting local industries, enhancing the quality and quantity of goods produced in various localities.
The national chairperson USSIA, Eunice Wekesa said that they got a call from Buy Uganda Build Uganda flamers (BUBU) to ensure that the public gets to know the locally produced products within their localities than buying them from outside.
“We realized that people don’t need to travel to Kampala to buy some products which are readily available in the neighbourhood but are not known to them. I copied this idea in Germany where they close some streets and roads for four hours with aiming of informing the public about certain products, so when I introduced it in Masaka it worked now we are here in Mbarara.”
She made certain remarks on Saturday at the launch of street market days where they closed McAllister road in Mbarara town. The commended the Municipality leadership for the big support they rendered by allowing them to close one of the busiest roads for a trade fair.
Dr. Joshua Mutabi a commissioner for trade in the ministry of trade and cooperatives who represented Trade Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, at the launch of street market days.
He noted that he was impressed by the manufacturers who thronged the trade show to exhibit their produced goods.
Mutambi commended producers of textile products, wines, ghee, honey, leather products health products like Kazire among others.
He assured that the government is interested in ensuring that this program is fully supported to first build capacity to produce good quality products for the available markets which he says rhymes with the agenda of industrialization.
The Mayor Mbarara Municipality, Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi assured manufacturers that they are going to gazette only Sunday to allow traders to operate on the McAllister road.
“When such innovations come, we, leaders, don’t need to frustrate them; so long they are aiming at improving the livelihoods of Ugandans and this is what our beloved president wants. So closing one road on a Sunday won’t affect the traffic flow in town, there are so many diversions that can still bring you to town or take you home,” Kakyebezi said
He, however, called upon those in Mbarara not to leave such opportunities for only producers from Kampala but rather to wake and exhibit their products so that the public can know they produce.
Mbarara industrial park woes
Wesaka noted that the Mbarara Industrial park which is well known as Uganda Gatsby where small scale manufacturers in Mbarara had pooled resources and procured that land in 1998 at shs 77m have been denied access to the land by Uganda Investment Authority.
It should be noted that when small scale traders realized that they were paying much money in town for rent, they mobilized themselves in 1998 managed to buy that land located behind the CocaCola plant in Makenke cell at a whooping sum of UGX77m from former Mayor Wilson Tumwine.
That after traders realized that they had little money to develop the land, they got a loan from East African Development Bank amounting to UGX2.16b and started constructing thinking that traders would occupy the buildings and be able to service the loan which didn’t take place.
These failed to pay back the loan and the fact that they had used the land as the collateral security, government of Uganda through Uganda Investment Authority stepped in and cleared the loan on behalf of traders.
Later alone, the UIA decided to claim the ownership of the land and chased away all those manufacturers who had occupied the buildings giving days to have vacated. Traders took their matters to relevant offices including to that of presidency and Gen. Salim Saleh to have their matters resolved.
In a letter dated January 18, 2010, President Museveni requested Maggie Kigozi, the then Executive director, requesting the authority to give traders a lengthy grace period to enable them to repay the loan and warned that traders would remain the owners of the land.
He advised UIA to finds way on how they could reach a consensus with traders, occupy the buildings and start paying slowly but since then nothing has been done.
Traders say that in 2016 they (traders) agreed to enter into Memorandum of understanding with UIA but the move proved futile after the latter refused to append on their signatures.
“Ever since we were chased away from that land most machines that some traders had put have depreciated, rusted with much dust and am sure they no longer work. We pray that let government reinstate us back to our buildings because the buildings are idle yet we injected in a lot of money. Museveni has wrote to us several letters indicating that UIA should give us back our land but negative” Said Wesaka
She adds, “Museveni has been giving out money to local manufacturers in other areas like Kamuwokya who don’t even support him, we have been voting him and we still vote him but let him order and we get back our park and put it to use as we had planned because our equipments have been destroyed by dust and rusting.”
On the industrial Park, Mutambi agreed that the ministry is aware of their concern because it was reported. He said there was a directive from the president to allow these people start using the land as they pay back the loan but this has not been adhered to.
“Today I happened to visit the park, I found that the directive was not implemented most people closed the place is completely abandoned yet much money was spent, the good thing is seat on the UIA board we are going to discuss it and see the environment that can be put to allow these people start working from there so closing such infrastructure is not good for the country” Assured Mutambi.