By Moses Oketayot
Lt. Gen James Mugira, the General Manager of National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) which is the business arm of the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Force has said that the corporation finishes its construction contracts in time, because in the army any job is taken like an order and so it must be completed within the expected time frame.
“We are serious people, pragmatic, practical, and believe more in actions than words. We are not motivational speakers, ours is action because in the military that is how we work, and we are guided by our love and desire to serve this country and elevate it to another level,” he explained.
He revealed this in an interview with this publication while highlighting the achievements of the corporation since its formation in 1989 ahead of the Tarehe Sita celebrations slated today, 6th February in Mbarara district.
He noted that the army doesn’t entertain corruption in the form of kickbacks when bidding for contracts.
“We have always advised people that if you are interested in kickbacks, this is not your address, go and do it elsewhere,” he said, adding that the corporation is run on clear anti-corruption policies that guide it.
“We bring on board the professionalism, discipline, commitment, and that is how we have been able to execute these projects in record time and to the satisfaction of the clients in that clients are looking for us because of the quality and cheap works that we do,” he noted
Mugira says that among the subsidiaries under NEC, Luwero Industries Ltd is the biggest because of what it deals in like medical waste management, manufacture of commercial explosives under Kyoga Dynamics Ltd through a joint venture with a Chinese company, medical masks, and incineration with a state of the art incinerator among others.
NEC also has a Joint Venture with a Russian company for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of helicopters based in Nakasongola distict called Pro-Heli International Services Ltd which was commissioned by president Museveni in January 2022.
NEC-Sreit, which deals in the assembling and manufacturing of armored vehicles, is also one of the big joint ventures with a UAE-based company running in Nakasongola district.
Speaking about NEC Works and Engineering Ltd, he said that it has also ventured into railway construction in partnership with a Chinese company to upgrade the old metre gauge railway from Kampala city to Malaba border point which will be commissioned soon when completed.
In the agricultural sector, the corporation also has a number of projects it is involved like the NEC Farm Katonga Ltd in Gomba district where they carry out bull fattening, and in the future it plans to open up a factory for making dry ration like beef and biscuits which are currently being imported from South Africa and Brazil for the Army.
“We intend to start producing that beef here at the NEC farm in Katonga,” Gen. Mugira said.
Works to revamp the old NEC Pharmaceuticals in Bugolobi are also ongoing and will be completed soon, according to the general manager.
Through NEC Security Ltd, a private security company, the corporation plans to provide security for the crude oil pipeline that will run from Hoima to Tanga Port in Tanzania.
HOW NEC WORKS WIN CONTRACTS?
When asked how NEC Works is awarded most of the construction projects, whether local contractors compete fairly in the bidding process, Gen. Mugira had this to say: “We have won most of these contracts on merit because of the capacity that we have built because of the level of professionalism and quality of works done.”
He cited the bidding process for the oil waste management project in Kyangwali where he says was very competitive but managed to emerge as the best among both local and international competition.
However, he says that some projects in government, especially under the ministry of defence, are given to them because of a presidential directive that construction works for government projects should be undertaken by the army engineering brigade, and NEC Works Ltd.
Mugira says that the corporation is very cognizant of local content in that when NEC Works undertakes any project within a community, they make sure that the locals benefit where he cited examples of Kiira Motors where many locals are being employed as casual workers.
Article 209 (2) of the UPDF Act says that the army should engage in productive activities for the development of the country which explains the reason for the army’s involvement in business.
According to the general manager, they don’t get any funding from the government besides the Ugx2b given by its mother ministry of defense annually, but use internally generated resources from the subsidiaries.
A case in point is the newly constructed USD1.5m production line at NEC UZIMA water which he says was purely funded by the profit made from all the subsidiaries, and dividends from the joint ventures, without getting any money from government coffers.
On the impact NEC has had since inception, Gen. Mugira says that it is very visible without any doubt as he explained: “We have employed a number of people both civilians and army personnel and engaged in a number of activities like the explosives factory which have reduced the costs of explosives at the end of the day, and therefore the cost of road infrastructure because we are producing it cheaply.”
The explosives made from Nakasongola according to Mugira are already being exported to countries on the continent like Angola, Zambia, Kenya, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo among others.
Gen. Mugira says the celebrations of the day provides an opportunity for the army to reflect on the history of the liberation struggle, successes registered, achievements and also the challenges along the way.
He further said that the day is also used to celebrate the Wanainchi who provided both logistics and intelligence for the NRA in its liberation struggles, whom he says without them, it would be hard to win.
The 42nd Tarehe Sita 2023 is being celebrated under the theme “Recognising the sacrifice of the founders of the People’s revolution for socio-economic transformation.”
The main celebrations are being held at Kakyeka stadium in Mbarara city with President Museveni as chief guest.
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