Uganda: Masaka Leaders Decry Delayed Completion of Market

Masaka City authorities have raised the red flag over the delayed completion of Masaka Central Market whose construction started three years ago.

The leaders claim that the contractor has failed to complete the work despite extending the deadline four times as the latest one elapsed on March 31.

The Shs18.4b market project, which is funded by African Development Bank and Ugandan government, is a joint venture between Multiplex Ltd and Alshams Construction Company Ltd.

The construction of the facility commenced in February 2018, and was initially expected to be completed by February 2020, but the work is currently at about 90 per cent.

Mr Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo, the outgoing Masaka City mayor, said it was practically impossible for the contractor to complete the work by March 31 as promised.

Mr Afaayo said the delay to complete the market has greatly affected the vendors who are operating in an open space as their merchandise get soaked whenever it rains.

"I have taken a while without hearing from the contractor. If the work proved difficult for them they could have alerted us so that we inform government and see what to do," he said during an interview on Friday

He added that other market projects whose construction started at the same time have since been commissioned.

The Masaka City Clerk, Mr John Behangane, said the earliest the contractor can finish the work is June this year.

"The contractor is currently doing plastering, plumbing and painting which take some time. For now, the contractor is likely to hand over the project in June but not by end of March as anticipated," he said

Ms Elizabeth Nakayiza, the chairperson of the Masaka Central Market Vendors Association, said although the vendors always proposed changes in structural designs which the contractor heeded to, the delays have since become abnormal.

"It is true we proposed changes in the structural designs that suit our people but this can't justify the contractor's failure to beat the deadline," Ms Nakayiza said. She added that the delays will not stop them from closely supervising the project.

Ms Betty Bagundu, a vendor dealing in foodstuffs, said they will stage a peaceful protest if the contractor doesn't complete the project on time.

"We are running out of patience. What we want now is a completed new market," Ms Bagundu said

Ms Jennifer Namuyangu, the State minister for Local Government, said she will visit the site to receive a complete project as promised by the contractor. "It's true the project has delayed but I will soon go to Masaka to receive the project from contractor because that is what he promised," the minister said in a telephone interview

Mr Ezra Kiyingi , an engineer with Multiplex Ltd, declined to comment on the matter while Mr Moses Ndege Bbosa, the company managing director, did not answer our repeated calls.

While inspecting the project last year, Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi said if the contractor fails to beat the deadline they will have no option but to cut the contractor's payement.

" Government will have no option but to cut the contractor's payments which may cost him about Shs10m each day he takes before completing the job. I am tired of stories, what I need now is to have the market complete and I invite the President to commission it ."

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