TAREHE SITA FETE! Here’s what UPDF’s NEC is doing in the Albertine region, Entebbe and Jinja
BY MOSES OKETAYOT
A few days ago, several journalists were taken on a tour by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC).
This was established in 1989 by an Act of Parliament to serve as a commercial arm of the Ministry of Defence /Uganda Defence Forces and to produce goods and services that are beneficial to the Defence Forces and the general public.
Its commercial ventures are undertaken through its subsidiaries and joint ventures.
It runs five businesses which include; Luwero Industries, NEC Security Services Ltd, NEC farm at Katonga land, NEC Uzima Ltd, NEC Works& Engineering Ltd and NEC Agro SMC Ltd.
As Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) mark 41st Tarehe Sita celebrations today, 6th February 2023, here is what NEC is doing in the Albertine region, Jinja and Entebbe.
OIL WASTE MANAGEMENT (ALBERTINE REGION)
On Tuesday 24th January, President Yoweri Museveni commissioned the first of the oil drilling rigs in the Albertine’s Kingfisher area operated by Uganda’s oil joint venture partner, CNOOC.
Museveni commissioned the rigs in Buhuka, Kikuube district in an event which has been described as one of the major milestones towards the country’s target of producing oil in 2025.
With this comes the need to manage, treat, and dispose of the waste that will be coming from the downstream of the Albertine graben oil field.
Luwero Industries Ltd, a subsidiary of NEC has been contracted to carry out the exercise, and as we report, the waste treatment and disposal facility is ongoing to make sure that it is ready by the time drilling begins in 2025.
According to Eng Agaba George, the Project Manager, the facility has three components i.e. solid waste treatment equipment, liquid waste treatment equipment, and the disposal facility which is the land field.
Other support equipment include the tyre wash for disinfection of vehicles entering and exiting the facility, and a weigh bridge, a stabilization treatment facility which is 90% complete, according to Eng. Agaba.
He further said that the treated water will be re-used at the facility, and the excess water will be used to irrigate the 20000 trees planted, while the solid waste will be buried in the land field.
When asked how much waste will be handled at the facility, Eng. Agaba said that the thermal desorption unit which will basically handle the oil solid waste has the capacity to treat 2 metric tons per hour, and for a water desorption unit with a 20 cubic metres per hour.
The engineered landfill at the facility which meets both local international standards has a capacity of 46,000 cubic metres of waste, as per the expected volumes from the oil drilling contractor in CNOOC.
However, the engineers say they have an excess 20,000 cubic metres of land that can handle waste from other sites besides Kingfisher if need arises in future.
Concerning safety of nearby farmland, Eng. Agaba says that as per the environmental assessment, the facility is located 10kms away, and the water table is about 100 metres, but said that in case of any leakages, they have mechanisms like the monitoring well in place to monitor and handle to make sure the waste doesn’t end up in the nearby river, and Lake Albert.
LIL along with its partner HBP, a Chinese Company that specialises in oil waste management have set up several facilities to manage, treat and dispose of waste including the solid and liquid treatment plants, engineered landfills, accommodation camp and allied services to cater for over 150 personnel.
It has also set up administration facilities, a staff clinic that will also be open to the public, installed power transformers by UEDCL, constructed control, monitoring and production wells plus other environmental monitoring facilities such as leachate collection and storm water evaporation pits and the road network within the waste management facility.
The facility employs over 100 locals and as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, Water, a Camp clinic and a football pitch shall be opened to the surrounding community.
Since oil drilling comes with its environmental challenges, earlier on 20th January 2023, the General Manager of Luwero Industries Ltd (LIL), Maj. Gen. Sabiiti Muzeyi received 1,000 trees from National Forestry Authority (NFA) at the ongoing construction of the drilling waste treatment and disposal facility plant for the KingFisher Oil Field for planting along the facility. Though the target is to plant 20,000 trees.
The discovery and exploration of oil have boosted services like the provision of food, construction services, cargo handling, civil works, provision of earth materials like rocks, setting up of training facilities and medical services, and a produce market.
KIIRA MOTORS (JINJA)
Seated on a 100-acre piece of land on the outskirts of Jinja city, construction of Kiira motors vehicles manufacturing plant phase one kicked off in October 2019, and it was supposed to be completed in 2021.
But due to the disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the contractor (NEC Works& Engineering Ltd), was forced to adjust completion of phase one by an extra year ahead (2022), as explained by Lt. Col. John Wilbroad Muhwezi- the project administrator.
“We took up this Kiira Vehicle Plant project to have facilities that will host the factory for both electric and diesel-powered buses which are currently being done from Luwero Industries in Nakasongola,” he stresses.
Lt. Col Muhwezi says that the project is being undertaken in phases, and the first phase is complete, and they are now dealing with the second phase which is supposed to end by June 2023 according to the projections, after which they will begin the third and final phase.
At full capacity, the plant will be producing nine buses daily, 252 monthly and 3,024 electric and diesel-powered buses annually.
The plant will host production, testing and quality assurance facilities which will also be available to private industry players at a fee, from both Uganda and within the East African region, according to Lt. Col. Muhwezi.
The plant will also be producing Lorries, SUVs and electric motorbikes.
Since a complete vehicle has over 33,000 spare parts, a spare parts production facility will also be set up in Kayunga district on a 2-square miles piece of land.
When asked how the project will improve the relationship between NEC which is UPDF, and the civilians, Lt. Col Muhwezi said it is being used as a pilot project to see if the army can indeed work with civilians, and what kind of products they can produce so that they use it as a blueprint for future projects.
He further explained that the workforce at the plant at full capacity is 500 people, whereby ninety percent of the semi-skilled labour is sourced from within the area.
To show that the civilians are greatly involved in the project, Muhwezi said that Clerk of works who had been overseeing the project on behalf of Technology Consults is a lady from Busoga but has just been transferred to oversee another project elsewhere.
Relatedly, all the materials in form of hard core rocks, murram, sand, eucalyptus and timber being used at the site is locally sourced.
On how the army has benefited from working with civilians, Afande Muhwezi says that it has provided for them the chance to prove to Ugandans that professionally the UPDF is not only looking at fighting on the frontline, but touching all corners.
The project has also helped in bridging the gap between the army and civilians in a way that the old thinking that the army was only good at fighting in wars and soldiers undermining civilians is now a thing of the past, according to Lt. Col Muhwezi.
The project administrator says that the main setback to the project has been Covid-19 lockdown which saw most of the activities brought to a standstill— a lot of time was lost because people were locked out, materials were hard to access, Skilled manpower could not be accessed, factories shutdown and the project schedule had to be revisited.
Secondly, Busoga sub-region receives near-normal rainfall throughout the year, and the soil being loamy in nature, mobility at the site was hampered thus slowing down work especially in 2020 when it rained for most part of the year.
Thirdly, the peoples’ attitude who think that the project is unachievable due to inadequate publicity, whereby people who are not on ground know very little about what is going on.
Lt. Col Muhwezi says that most of the civilians who come to the site seeking employment abscond from duty after two days because of the tight work schedule which runs from 8am to 5:30pm, because most of them are used to working for fewer hours.
Muyobo Jacob Ivan, a store keeper at the Plant said that before working with the army, he had experienced good things they do in a way that when they go to any locality of instability, peace is restored.
Kintu Leah, another employee at the Kiira Vehicle Plant project working as a secretary, says she has had a good working experience with the army.
A similar perception is shared by one Rebecca who works as an Architectural draftsman. She says that due to the need for a job, had to be bold and talk to them. Rebecca says that as long as you obey their commands, you will be in good books with them.
The iron bars being used at the site are being supplied by Pramukh Steel Ltd located in Njeru town council, and Roofing Ltd. Cement is supplied by Tororo cement Ltd, and only the steel pillars for the warehouses and production facility are imported from Dubai, since it is not produced locally.
PRINTERY HOUSE, UFZA (ENTEBBE)
On 18th May, 2022, the Minister for Presidency Babirye Milly Babalanda presided over the ground breaking ceremony and flagged off the construction of the Security Printing Factory for Uganda Security Printing Company Ltd in Entebbe.
Actual construction took off in September 2022, and it is expected to be complete in 18 months according to the project timeline.
When complete by May 2024, installation of equipment by the German firm Veridos GmbH, and production of securities such as legal currency (money), passports, driving permits and ballot papers will commence at the ultra-secure facility.
The project is being undertaken through a joint venture between the government of Uganda and Veridos GmbH, a German firm.
The modern state of the art high tech security printing factory is being built by consortium of companies i.e. (NEC Works) and Technology Associates for 18 months but may drag according to the Project Engineer Lt. Bright Ruzindana due to structural changes by the client.
Currently the construction is at 25% and is estimated to cost Ugx47b, with the main structure being a concrete dome which will house two lines of plastic and paper security printer.
“It is purely concrete from down, the walls and the roof for safety and security purposes so that no one can easily access whatever is being done inside here. Basically we have two lines, one for paper and another for plastic,” Lt. Ruzindana said.
He further said that the cost of the project is being managed by minimizing middlemen as far as the building materials are concerned, whereby the steel and cement being used are bought directly from Pramukh Steel Ltd, and Tororo Cement Ltd.
When asked how overseeing such a sensitive project has impacted his career as an army civil engineer, Ruzindana said that upon completing the project, he will be fully accredited with a stamp by the Uganda Engineers Registration Board.
At the site, there is a workforce of around 150 people, 40 of which are civilians who work as semi-skilled labourers, in a bid to bridge the divide between the army and ordinary Ugandans, according to the Project Manager.
Speaking to experts in government securities who preferred anonymity on what it means for a country to print its own money, and ballot papers, they opine that as long as there is a transparent system put in place by all political actors when it comes to ballot papers there is no problem.
The experts also say that the country will cut off a lot of costs in terms of shipment costs and outbound travels by government officials to oversee the printing of ballot papers.
Meanwhile on the issue of printing money locally, the experts say that if unchecked, it could spiral inflation out of proportion, since at the orders of the powers that be, money can be easily printed from within.
OTHER PROJECTS BEING UNDERTAKEN BY NEC WORKS IN ENTEBBE
The subsidiary is currently engaged in the construction Uganda Free Zones Authority warehouse (UFZA) in Entebbe whereby two of the four structures are 100% complete, but the completion rate of the project is at 90%, according to Engineer Abraham Twinomugisha, the Site Engineer.
The warehouses will be used by businessmen dealing in international trade at a subsidized cost under UFZA.
Each of the warehouses have a compartment of 770 square metres. Upon completion, there will also be a four-storeyed administration block.
NEC Works also upgraded the Entebbe Pediatric hospital’s 4.2 km access road to paved bituminous standards which is complete awaiting handover to the client -Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
Construction of four accommodation facilities for Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) which is currently at 60% after failure by the previous contractor to complete the project within the time is also being undertaken by NEC.
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