OPINION: Masaka City was elevated to City Status in 2020 together with other 9 cities to serve as a regional city for greater Masaka or Southern Uganda.
Government through its Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) Program phase one and the additional phase ending December 2023 financed by a loan acquired from the World Bank has changed the facelift the New city Masaka by rehabilitating a number of roads in the heart of the city together with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) which reconstructed the Nyendo- Masaka- Kijjabwemi road (Broadway)
The USMID project was designed to enhance institutional performance of municipal councils which later some turned into cities so as to improve urban service delivery
Masaka also benefited from the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Project (MATIP) which was financed by the African Development Bank (ADB) to boost markets in urban communities in Uganda. Under this Project, Nyendo and Masaka Central Markets were built.
The additional visible projects are the Masaka-Bukakkata road and Villa Maria- Ssembabule road which have eased interconnection between Masaka City and Kalangala district, and Ssembabule, Bukomansimbi to Masaka city respectively.
However, as President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni visits Masaka sub region this week to promote investments, wealth creation, and the Parish Development Model, our leaders and all stakeholders shouldn’t forget informing him about other key areas which can help Masaka city to grow into a busy regional business hub.
The Key areas include;
1.Improving the road Network interconnecting to Masaka City. As earlier listed, some two key roads have helped to connect Masaka to the neighbouring districts of Bukomansimbi, Kalangala and Ssembabule, there is need to upgrade other roads to tarmac to promote inter-district trade since the sub region is known for coffee growing. These include;
- Kabulasoke-Kalungu-Villa Maria road to connect Gomba and Kalungu districts to Masaka
- Masaka- Kiwangala-Kkooki road to connect Rakai and Lwengo to Masaka
- Ddimu- Kalisizo- Malembo Roads to connect Masaka district and Kyotera to Masaka city
- Bukunda- Kyannamukaaka- Buyaga and Masaka- Kitengeesa-Buwunga- Kyannamukaaka-Lusaka-Kyotera road to interconnect Masaka city to Masaka district and Kyotera
- Masaka- Kibinge- Mateete and Mbiriizi- Mateete- Ssembabule roads to interconnect Ssembabule, Bukomansimbi and Lwengo to Masaka city
- Lyantonde-Rakai-Kyotera road
- Not forgetting the Main regional highway of Masaka-Kyotera-Kasensero- Mutukula roads interconnecting the sub region to the neighborhood Tanzania to promote regional trade.
Some of these roads were already pledged by the President but none of the project has kicked off. With no doubt, these roads can ease transportation of our farm produce which include coffee from Bukomansimbi, Kalungu and Kyotera, Fish and Pineapples from Masaka District, Milk fromLwengo, Lyantonde and Ssembabule, Irish potatoes and Banana from Rakai and Kyotera etc
2. Glass and Fruit Factories. The President had pledged to construct a glass factory and a fruit processing factory in Masaka District but the project has never kickstarted. We have learnt that some funds were released for the glass factory but it might have been swindled by a few corrupt individuals under the Uganda Development Corporation. This issue was brought up by a whistleblower who is the former chairperson Katwe-Butego Division and Democratic Party Publicist who has for a long time made a follow up on this project.
The two projects would help the sub region to utilise its resources like the white sand along the shores of Lake Victoria and the Pineapples grown in Kyannamukaaka instead of exporting the sand to china and pineapples to Sudan. Our leaders should remind the President about these projects.
3.Industrial Park. The President in 2015 commissioned the construction of an industrial park at Mazigo along Bukakkata- Masaka road. It was supposed to be established on a piece of land measuring to a square mile by the Uganda-China friendship under the greater Masaka consortium. A lot of money was pumped into the project for field tours, sensitising leaders etc but not even a single room is existing in the said park. The industrial park was planned to have several factories for value addition, an Airstrip nearby etc. Masaka lost all these developments. The President should be reminded about it as well
4.Revamping Lambu Port. We all know the importance of such in-land ports, but government should revamp such a port which in told was so active and productive during the Late Idi Amin’s reign. It will help to promote regional trade where big Marine Vessels from Kenya and Tanzania can dock directly at the Masaka Port to offload goods which are currently transported by road through Mutukula and Busia border posts. The Port will also promote the use of water transport from Masaka to Entebbe and Kampala.
5. Industrial hub. We are aware of the Presidential industrial hub which was launched in Ndegeya, Bugabira Parish to help in Skilling the Youth. We commend the government for this initiative but it shouldn’t fail because it will tackle the problem of unemployment.
6. Fishing. The People of Masaka, Kalangala and Kyotera districts sharing Lake Victoria have suffered a lot with the military which was deployed on the lake to handle the fishing industry. Many people have lost lives and property, suffered imprisonment, tortured etc. We ask government to minimise its restrictions on the fishing industry so that the common people can also earn a living from the lake.
When you visit Kasensero landing site, you will find a very big abandoned fish processing factory since most of the fish is now transported to Jinja, Entebbe and Kampala factories. Government should rehabilitate this factory and support our fishing communities which previously supplied fish to this factory.
7. Landing sites. Just like our neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania, government of Uganda should think of developing the Key landing sites like Bukakkata, Lambu, Kasensero, Ddimu among others to attract inland water trade and tourism.
8. One Stop Border Post at Mutukula. 418 vehicles a day pass through the Mutukula border point, with trucks taking over a day on average to process through customs from Tanzania to Uganda. This delay imposes serious costs on traders. They must wait longer for their import or export, pay for the truck to wait at the border, risk perishable goods losing their value and manage unpredictable transport times
A one stop border point is being constructed at the Mutukula border point. This project is related to other TMA supported projects that provide: Improved IT infrastructure at border post, Harmonized working procedures on both sides of the border. Training for border agency staff, freight forwarders and traders.
The President should make a follow up on this project so that it comes true.
9. Emyooga and PDM. I’m not knowledgeable about these two projects, but if they are meant to tackle unemployment and support our small scale businesses, let them be enrolled throughout the region so that we start seeing at least our neighbors benefiting from one of them. As of now, i have only heard the two on Radio and TV but i haven’t seen the beneficiaries. Just like he promised during his last address to the Parliament, the President should take key interest in finding out whether any money was/has been diverted by individuals.
In the long run, once all these projects are fulfilled, Masaka city will become a busy regional hub for southern Uganda.
The Writer is an independent minded Journalist, Editor, Political and development Analysist based in Masaka.
By Maurice Peter Matovu (firstname.lastname@example.org, 0758931705)