Uganda: Masaka Market Contractor Gets Ultimatum to Complete Works

Vendors at Masaka Central Market will have to wait a little longer to occupy the new market after the contractor failed to complete the project within the set deadline.

The project, funded by African Development Bank and Uganda government at a tune of Shs18.4b, is being undertaken in a joint venture between Multiplex Ltd, and Alshams Construction Company Ltd.

The contractors had been given up to June 11 to complete the project, but construction works currently stand at 90 per cent.

This is what prompted the government to grant three more months to the contractors to enable them complete the project.

This is the fifth contract extension the contractors are getting since the project started in February 2018, and was initially scheduled to be completed by February 2020.

While inspecting the construct works in March, former State minister for Local Government Jennifer Namuyangu revealed that 12 market projects across the country, whose construction started at the same time with Masaka, had since been commissioned, asking the contractors to speed up.

In a letter dated June 21, Mr Ben Kumumanya, the permanent secretary in the Local Government ministry, justified the deadline extension, arguing that there were changes in the project design, which slowed down the construction works.

The contractors are said to have made modifications, including changes in electrical and mechanical fittings to include hybrid designs for solar and hydropower cabling, plumbing changes for fish areas, changes in the upper floor to cater for a first aid clinic as requested by vendors, provision of more translucent sheets and windows at upper floor of the building to allow in more light and circulation. Other changes included provision of terrazzo floor finish for the upper floor to be turned into open pitches to absorb more vendors, which originally had been planned as a car park.

"The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to authorise the change order Number 7 for a no-cost time re-extension for 90 days from the intended completion date and issue instructions to the contractors to ensure works are completed without delay," the letter reads in part.

Leaders not happy

However, authorities in Masaka City led by mayor Florence Namayanja, have wondered how the Ministry for Local Government can grant more time to the contractors who has failed to complete work after extending the deadline four times.

She said the majority of market projects across the country, whose construction started at the same time as that of Masaka, were commissioned in January.

Ms Edith Namande, the secretary for the vendors' committee supervising the construction works, said it is true most of the design changes were suggested by vendors and they are ready to wait until the project is fully completed.

"Vendors are the end-users and we are ready to wait until we get a good structure that suits our needs," she said.

About the market

The new market, once complete, is expected to have a working space for more than 2,000 vendors, which is twice the number that was previously working at the old market.

It will have an agro-processing facility, stalls, lock-ups, shops, cold rooms, restaurants, a parking yard, and loading and off-loading areas. It will also have drainage ways, solid waste bays, firefighting facilities, washrooms, and banking halls. The market sits on a 2.5 acre-piece of land between Elgin and Edward Avenue streets.

Other markets redeveloped under the same project across the country include Jinja Central Market, Wandegeya and Busega market in Kampala, Mpanga Market in Fort Portal, Lira Market and Mbale Market. Others under construction are in the urban centres of Busia, Arua, Soroti, Lugazi, Moroto, Entebbe, Mbarara, Tororo, Kasese and Kitgum.

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