JINJA/BUIKWE- The Tuesday commissioning of six new industries in the eastern districts of of Jinja and Buikwe, one of the largest such single-day launch of multiple manufacturing plants in Uganda's history, has raised excitement over job and subsidiary economic opportunities.
All the factories are owned by Mr Magan Patel, 63, whose industrial interests span from steel, paper, batteries and beverage manufacture.
"He has exhibited a sound investment record in Uganda since 1999 and has promoted the establishment of 26 companies in Uganda, together with [like]-minded business partners from India," Mr Francis Baganzi, the group's corporate manager, said yesterday.
President Museveni also broke the ground for construction of four other factories, raising the prospect of new jobs, increased exports and reduction in Uganda's trade deficit through import substitution.
The new factories to be built are Sheree Textile Limited in Bugembe, Jinja District, Modern Rubber, Modern Allied and Modern Engineering in Buikwe's Njeru municipality.
Nile Aluminium Limited
Located in Bugembe Town Council in Jinja District, the factory produces saucepans, kettles, steel wool, chain links and wire mesh.
It directly employs 300 workers, while more than 1,000 are indirectly employed in terms of transporters and suppliers, among others. According to Mr Baganzi, its investment portfolio is more than $50m (about Shs187b) "because it involves rolling equipment."
Modern Laminates Limited
This one is located in Njeru Municipality in Buikwe District and has about 300 workers who are directly employed, while an estimated 1,000 are indirectly employed. The company produces corrugated paper used in the manufacture of corrugated boxes for packaging.
Modern Distillers Limited
Also located in Njeru Municipality, Buikwe District, the factory produces raw neutral spirit (raw material for producing alcohol, dry gin), surgical spirit and carbon dioxide. It directly employs 100 workers and 400 indirectly.
Located in Masese, Walukuba-Masese Division in Jinja Municipality, Nile Batteries manufacturers lead acid automated batteries and employs 100 workers directly and more than 400 indirectly. It is eying both local and regional markets.
Sheree Modern Textile Limited
A ground-breaking ceremony was held for this factory located in Bugembe Town Council in Jinja District, to make fabrics for knitting school uniforms.
Once completed, it will be among the largest in East and Central Africa, and according to Mr Jay Patel, the director of Modern Group, the uniforms will be sold at 50 per cent of the market price.
MMP Industrial Park
The park, which sits on 1,000 acres of land at Buwampa Village, Nyenga Sub-county in Buikwe District, will have 25 factories with three already undergoing construction.
They include Modern Rubber, Modern Allied and Modern Engineering, which will manufacture truck and tractor tyres, footwear and sheds respectively.
They are expected to directly employ 6,000 people.
Residents speak out
Mr Musa Kisambira, a boda boda rider, has welcomed the development.
He, however, appealed to the investors to pay their workers better. "I always ride past young girls walking to work very early in the morning and when I ask to offer them a lift, they say they cannot afford the fare because they are paid very little money," he said.
Mr Sulaiman Musoga, another boda boda cyclist and resident of Jinja Town, said if Ugandans are employed and if what the factories are manufacturing is benefiting Ugandans, he has no qualms about the development.
"But I have heard that those investors don't pay their workers well. It hurts to hear that someone is being paid Shs2,000 per day," he said.