Excitement as Arua city officials handover value addition facility to contractor
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
ARUA. Locals were on Friday treated to excitement following the decision taken by Arua city authorities to finally handover the Arua value addition facility to Rwahi Investments Limited for operationalization.
Located in Chongoloya cell, Awindiri ward in Arua central division, the plant was a component of the Shs34.9bn African Development Bank funded Arua main market which was built under the Market and Agriculture Trade Improvement (MATIP- II) program.
The facility was established to enable farmers in West Nile to add value to their cereals and be able to sell at a higher price instead of selling raw products at a low cost. The plant has machines for packaging the finished products for sale in the main market and for export.
The 500 metric tons capacity value addition center can mill up to 1000 bags of different crops per day when in full operation.
However, it has been lying idle for the last three years after being commissioned by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in October 2020.
But the official handover of the facility to Rwahi Investments Limited has excited locals who are now very optimistic that the development will offer employment opportunities for youths and women in the area.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Mansur Abdu, the Chongoloya cell chairperson expressed gratitude to the city officials for thinking about the operationalization of the facility.
“Today, we the people of Chongoloya cell and central division as a whole are very happy that there is going to be a handover of this facility to the company that is coming to operate it. This will create jobs for our youths and women,” Abdu said.
“I now want to urge the contractor that at least 60-70 percent of the jobs should be given to our people here. Then the rest, you can come with them from out there,” Abdu added.
He also appealed to the city authority to ensure that the government expedites the process of connecting West Nile to the national grid for such a facility to operate effectively.
“My request to the authorities is that this kind of facility needs power. The type of power we are having here in Arua being supplied by West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo) is not enough to run this facility. So, I’m putting my request to the higher authority to fight very hard for West Nile to be connected to the national grid,” Abdu further requested.
In his remarks, Casbart Tukundane, the Director of Rwahi Investments Limited assured the public that they are going to operate the facility in the best interest of the city and this country in order to benefit everybody.
“I can assure you that this machine is going to create jobs. In fact, in our closed-door meetings, we assured your leaders that 75 percent of the jobs that will be created here will be for the people of Arua city and in particular, Awindiri Ward. This machine will also generate some revenue to the city, it will increase the tax base of the nation, URA will also benefit and the country itself will benefit,” Tukundane said.
He called for maximum cooperation during the operationalization of the facility.
“When we say we are going to create the jobs, the jobs will be there but on merit. For example, these are machines, they need technocrats; people who have studied mechanical engineering, people who have studied electrical engineering to manage and run the machines so that at the end of the day, we as Rwahi Investments are not blamed for any loss of the machines due to negligence,” Tukundane clarified.
“So, we will put up the list of the jobs that will be available and through your representatives, we will call for applications and shortlist and have your team employed. We shall also need unskilled labour, so the facility has brought a lot of opportunities to Arua city and we can assure you, we are going to manage it well and we are going to cooperate with the leadership and the people and at the end of the day, everyone will win,” Tukundane promised.
Malik Drakuma, the Arua central division Town Clerk implored the people of Arua city to consider educating themselves and their children so as to get the opportunity to work in such a facility and many others that are yet to come to the city.
While presiding over the function on behalf of Arua Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Godfrey Mbigiti Jonah, the Deputy RCC in charge of Ayivu Division said the operationalization of the facility will ease poultry keeping in the city.
“In Arua, it has been hard to do poultry farming because it was hard to get chicken feeds but with this facility, you are going to start poultry farming. If I have been importing chicken all the way from Kampala, we are now going to look after them here. Secondly, our Investor, please try to see how you can interest these people to farm on a large scale. This will ease your burden of raw materials,” Mbigiti advised