BY Wilson Kamukono
MASAKA. The works on the new Masaka market, which started in February 2018, is expected to be completed by July 30, however the project stands at 83 percent barely one month to date of completion.
A joint venture of Multiplex Ltd and Alshams Construction Company Ltd was contracted to do the work at Shs18.45 billion, with sponsorship from the African Development Bank and government of Uganda.
As Masaka ushers in a new city vendors were hopeful to occupy a new market which will accommodate over 2000 vendors however this may not be as the project stands at 83 percent contrary to projected 98 percent by this time.
Other Markets whose construction started with Masaka like Mbarara and Kitugum are complete and ready to be commissioned.
Ms Betty Nakayiza, the chairperson of Masaka Central Market Vendors Association told Daily Monitor that they hoped to be occupying the new market before ushering in a city but various hazards hampered works on the way.
“We expected to be occupying Masaka central Market in the new city but the project delayed at foundation for one year and recently while inspecting the market vendors requested the contractor for reasonable adjustments in the stalls to suit our interests as vendors,”
Vendors asked for at least from 5 ft by 5 ft to 7 ft by 7 ft, every stall,” she said adding on that demolishing over 100 already established stalls has consumed a lot of time which explains the delay.
In March this year a section of vendors protested structural designs of over 100 constructed stalls during a joint inspection with officials from the Ministry of local government saying that stalls lack ample space and walkways for customers. The most dissatisfied vendors were those dealing in foodstuffs.
Ms Nakayiza asked vendors to be patient because the project is progressing well, citing that a slight delay with a good output is better than rushing with shadow work.
On contrary Mr Keneth Makumbi another vendor says the contractor has delayed so much and the place where vendors were temporarily relocated is in poor condition marred with dust and mud according to the season.
“We heard that other markets whose construction commenced even after Masaka are now complete and vendors have already occupied them and we are wondering what’s wrong with the contractor in Masaka,” He said
Mr Makumbi asked Masaka authorities to revitalize efforts on making sure that contractors speed up work rather than waiting for officials from ministry and whine helplessly.
Eng Hassan Musana , the engineer on site indicated that away from reconstructing demolished stalls Covid-19 and its after effects have not spared them too citing that three months were lost.
“Our works come at stand still because some of our workers were caught up in various areas of the country and hard wares were close which could not enable us continue working,”
He said they are however happy that Ministry of local government revised the extension up to October 15 to enable them fully conclude the project
Engineer Musana revealed that the project is at 83 percent and the delays are caused by the vendors who continue imposing their needs saying that the reconstruction of stalls, Sacco offices, and a health center which were not in original designs .
He said the ongoing works include fabrication and installation of roofing, doors, windows, grilles and finishing.
The old Masaka Central Market structure, which was constructed in 1936, was pulled down in 2018 to pave way for the new market. It used to house more than 1,000 vendors.
Currently, the vendors are operating in makeshift stalls adjacent to Masaka Secondary School main gate.
They have repeatedly urged the contractor to speed up work on the project, saying the open space where they were temporarily relocated is in a poor condition and their merchandise always gets soaked in dirty water whenever it rains.
The new market is expected to accommodate more than 2,000 vendors. It will also have an agro-processing facility, stalls, shops, c cold rooms, restaurants, a parking yard and loading and offloading areas, drainage ways, solid waste bays, firefighting facilities, among others.