Vendors have started erecting stalls on the land meant to host the one stop customs clearing center in Mutukula. It follows the failure by the Works and Transport ministry to kick starts the construction works since 2010 when several people were evicted from the land. In 2010, Government secured a 3 billion dollar loan from World Bank to construct one stop customs clearing center to ease the movement of goods and services amongst East African Community member states. In 2011, Government compensated owners of commercial buildings in Mutukual central and demolished about 90 houses to pave way for construction.
However, since then, no activity has taken place at the proposed construction site. On 14th December last year, MPs on the East African Community Affairs Committee inspected the site and found it abandoned without any activity. Led by Sarah Mwebaza, the committee chairperson the MPs promised to launch investigations to establish why the project has stalled. Mwebaza told URN on Thursday on from Butebo County that, they met Abraham Byandala, the Works and Transport Minister who assured them that the construction work would start in February this year.
The MP sounded surprised that no work had started. Mwebaza says despite receiving assurance from the minister that the funds meant for the project are intact, they have now become suspicious. She says the delay to construct the center has frustrated many Ugandan traders who spend weeks in queues at Mutukula border posts waiting for clearance of their goods. She also says that during their monitoring exercise, they found that some of the people who were compensated and evicted have started returning with small kiosks. Benon Kajuna, the commissioner in charge of Works and Transport says construction is expected to start in September this year.
He explains that the project stalled after the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority–PPDA halted the tendering process over alleged fraud. Kajuna says as a result, government ordered them to review the tendering process. He explains that government is still reviewing the bids of the firms which applied to undertake the construction. Currently, traders have erected kiosks on the land. Dominic Kaganda, a local council official in Mutukula says the vendors have taken advantage of the free space to erect their stalls and transact business.
He however says that since all traders were compensated, the vendors will vacate the place when the construction works starts. However, since then, no activity has taken place at the proposed construction site. However, since then, no activity has taken place at the proposed construction site. John Macho, an official with Uganda Revenue Authority Mutukula branch says despite the fact that center would go a long way in addressing trader barriers; normal clearance of goods will remain. He says currently, some importers and exporters delay in the line because some of them turn up without vital documents.