The construction of three modern markets adjacent to strategic oil projects in Buliisa, Hoima and Kikuube districts has started with hope that it will increase community participation in the oil industry both directly and indirectly.
The markets under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (ARSDP) are being established at Buhuka in Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district, Kabaale in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district and Biiso town council in Buliisa district.
Buhuka is adjacent to the Kingfisher Oil Field, Kabaale is near the Hoima International Airport and the oil refinery while Biiso is the gateway to Buliisa which hosts the Tilenga industrial park and related projects.
While speaking at the official site handover to the contractor on Friday last week, Buliisa District Chairperson, Simon Agaba Kinene, expressed optimism that the modern market construction brings a ray of hope that local communities will benefit from the oil industry since their standard of marketing will improve to meet the standards required by urban dwellers and the oil industry.
However, Mr Kinene challenged the people of Buliisa and the Albertine region in general to work hard and produce goods that will be sold in the new markets including commercial fishing, animal rearing and agriculture. He also said local participation should start with employment during the project construction.
Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Gilbert Kermundu, who is the Chief Government Valuer, called upon the beneficiaries to embrace these projects and support the contractors and the government since they are geared towards empowering the local communities for economic prosperity.
He explained the progress and the numerous components in the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (ARSDP) including a road network and fish cages.
While at Kabaale market for a similar function a day before, the Hoima District Vice Chairperson, Frederick Kakoraki, cautioned the contractor company workers against abusing girls and women sexually as witnessed on many construction projects in Bunyoro including the Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya Road and Hoima-Butyaba-Wanseko road construction.
“You should caution your workers against abusing our girls or else they will be arrested for defilement and related crimes and offences. We do not want to see our girls spoilt because you will invite many workers from within Hoima and outside,” said Mr Kakoraki.
He also urged young girls and women in project areas to stop being enticed with money from workers that might cost their future life.
Residents asked the contractor to ensure that all affordable opportunities are availed to the local persons such that they can also benefit.
They eyed opportunities like supply of food to workers, provision of casual labour and also provision raw material like sand and bricks. They also demanded the posts of Community Liaison Officers and Safety Managers to be from their communities instead of bringing strangers.
Mr Singh JB, the Director for Techno 3 Uganda Limited – the project contractor for the three markets’ construction expressed commitment to provide all the opportunities to the local people as long as they show ability to work for the success of the projects because at the end of the day, accountability will be demanded by the general public and the government.
The markets are of the same design with each costing Sh3b. Each will have the capacity to accommodate more than 150 stalls.
The markets’ construction projects will be supervised by MBW Consulting Limited.
The market completion components include provision of furniture to all the existing vendors, reliable water supply facilities, sanitation facilities, toilets, fish lining area, cooking area and restaurants among other parts that make it a modern market.
Solar energy and hydro-electricity power connection will make reliable source of energy to the markets.
The Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project implementation started in 2015 with an objective of setting up infrastructure that will enable the local communities to ably interact with the population boom pulled by the oil industry in the Albertine Graben.
Mr Emmanuel Kaganzi, the project coordinator is hopeful that the projects will be completed despite disruptions of floods on some roads in Buliisa district.
He says the road network is 95% complete while the progress of polishing roads in Buliisa town council is 30% complete.
Over all, the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project costs $25m to be implemented in a phased manner.