TORORO – Hope is beginning to be restored among the business community and residents of Tororo town as the construction works of the new modern market near completion.
The vendors were relocated to a temporary market in Water Village mid-2017 to pave way for the 23bn African Development Bank funded market under Markets and Trade Agricultural Improvement Programme [MATIP] but since then, they have continued to claim that the new market is not business friendly and poses great risks of fire.
The progressive work status was presented by the contract manager Engineer Philip Pichan Cwinyaai before the Tororo Municipal Council leaders during a site meeting where he said currently the construction works are at 57%.
“By the design of the project, we are left with only eight months to completion and currently the physical contract performance is at 57%. We are optimistic that by February 2020 the work will be ready for handover though the facility will continue to be under the contractor Young Jim Construction Company’s maintenance for 12 months’’ he said.
A team of leaders led by the area Member of Parliament, Hon. Yeri Apollo Ofwono had also visited the construction site to verify allegations that the contract had been altered and had been evidenced by the contractor’s action of blocking leaders from accessing the construction site and ask the contractor to see how best to speed up the construction works.
However, the contract manager described the allegations as false adding that the construction is being guided by its architectural designs and drawings coupled with the bill of quantity.
He added that by design, the facility will have a solar lighting system, a daycare, clinic, cold rooms, banking services, restaurants, stores, stalls among others and it will accommodate approximately 1,400 vendors.
On alleged denial of access of leaders to the construction site, Eng. Pichan said no leader has ever been blocked from carrying out the monitoring role because the contractor has always invited them to attend site meetings which some of them have failed to attend and that if any of them was denied then it could have been on safety reasons.
“By policy, unauthorised persons are not allowed into the construction site without the knowledge of the safety engineer who has to alert all heads of sections of the visitor and that person has to be dressed on safety gears to avoid eventualities so if that happened to any one of you then I stand to apologize on behalf of government and contractor,’’ he said.
Peter Okolong Langalanga the Chairperson of the Market Vendors and Business Association says he is optimistic that the new market will present better opportunities for their businesses since it has been modernised.
He said the vendors have since relocation faced numerous challenges that have forced some of them out of business.
He said the current site is not well positioned and its structures are just temporal hence making it unfriendly to operate the business.
“It is my appeal that the contractor sticks to the contract period and the project designs otherwise the majority of vendors are planning to increase on their stock considering the proposed facilities that the new market is supposed to have in place,’’ Mr. Okolong said.
Hon. Ofwono thanked the contractor for maintaining speed but appealed to the contractor to ensure that the designs of the market are not tempered with citing an incidence where the designs of the Tororo Taxi Park were altered without the knowledge of the local leaders.
He requested the contractor to work closely with the leaders from the Municipal Council and market to see to it that vendors are relocated to the new market in phases basing on the risks that vendors have started undergoing ranging from theft, weather and disaster like fire outbreaks.