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Museveni commissions new cement factory, says it will transform Karamoja sub-region

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayo
Reporter whose work is detailed

President Yoweri Museveni has hailed the launch of a new cement factory in Moroto District, saying it will help transform Karamoja sub-region while also saving Uganda from importing clinker, a key ingredient in making cement.

 Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony in Nadunget Sub-county on Tuesday, the President said the mining of clinker will save Uganda Shs1.4 trillion annually that it has been spending on importing the same mineral

The factory, which is owned by International Holdings Limited (WIH), a subsidiary of China West Cement Limited, will produce 6,000 tonnes of clinker and cement per day.

“So, the people working in the factories will benefit, the government will benefit by taxes but I also want all the Karimojong to benefit in all the other ways,” the President said at the factory site in Nadunget Sub-county yesterday.

The factory is expected to be completed within two years. The China Railway 20th Bureau Group Corporation has been contracted to undertake the construction works.

Clinker is one the major ingredients in the production of cement. Uganda has been importing it and the manufacturers attribute the high price of cement to the cost of imported clinker.

Mr Museveni described the construction of the factory as part of his strategy to add value to Uganda’s minerals instead of exporting them in raw form.

He also revealed that the investors wouldn’t have picked interest in investing in Karamoja if he hadn’t insisted on constructing infrastructure there despite objections by the World Bank.

 He said the World Bank had said tarmacking Soroti-Moroto road wouldn’t be economically viable since it had less than 12 percent returns.

  “The NRM, being the wise man, built the tarmac from Soroti to Moroto,” he said

 The President said Karamoja is endowed with minerals such as marble, limestone and gold, and they are now looking at petroleum in the Kadam basin.

“What they are doing is what we have been telling you all the time, if there is peace and electricity, people with money will come and invest,” Mr Museveni said.

He said the locals would also benefit in terms of jobs and services to the employees of the factory.

“All of you cannot come here to work in the factory but the workers in the factory don’t come with their own gardens yet they need food; milk, beef and others, that is how all other Karimojong can come in,” he said.

 Mr Museveni said another cement factory will be established in Katikekile Sub-county, Moroto District, where they have secured the surface mining rights.

“So therefore, Karamoja will turn into the industrial hub of Uganda,” he said.

The President said the factory will come with 1,000 employment opportunities.

He said the people of Rupa Sub-county have got scholarships, a health centre and an ambulance from the project.

“But there are also another two ways the community can be involved like the case of Amuru sugar. We got shares for the community,” Mr Museveni said.

He said the clinker and cement plant will bring to the economy $900m, slightly higher than what coffee brings to the economy.

The President pledged that the government will tarmac the roads from Moroto to Kotido and Kaabong and that from Kitgum to Kidepo.

He also used the occasion to warn warriors in the sub-region to use the amnesty law to hand over their guns or face the new army commanders whom he said have all it takes to stop them.

 “For the Turkana, I told them that you will not come back to Uganda unless you hand over the people who killed my people. They are now talking of compensation, which is alright but they must bring the killers first because we cannot go on with this nonsense. Other people are going to the moon but we are here wasting time,” The President said.

On the challenges of costly power for industries, Mr Museveni blamed it on poor negotiations during the construction of Bujagali power dam.

He said they have been able to reduce the cost of power from the initially 13 cents per unit to between eight and 10 cents per unit.

Mr Peter Lokeris, the minister of State for Minerals, said the power line to Karamoja is for 30KV, but the President has ordered the building of a 132KV line to benefit factories.

“The project will produce approximately 6,000 tonnes per day of clinker. Uganda has a present cement production capacity of about 4.5 million tonnes per annum and the demand is projected to increase by 15 percent annually on the background of the booming oil and gas sector and infrastructure development,” Mr Lokeris said.

The vice general manager of China Railway 20th Bureau Group Corporation, Mr Chen Lei, said they would ensure that the project is a success.

The country representative of West International Holding Limited, Mr Hannington Karuhanga, said the factory project in Moroto is a testament of the possibilities that Uganda can offer when local communities are united to attract investors.

“It has also been very clear with your bold decision that you have insisted that resources not be extracted in their raw nature and exported at little or no value to Uganda or indeed Africa in general. Those of us who know and hear what you say, this is a testament not just to the people of Karamoja alone but to Uganda, East Africa and to Africa,” Mr Karuhanga said.

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