Kampala’s 894-acre industrial and business park is to have its access roads upgraded from gravel to tarmac at a cost of of Ush6 billion ($2.37 million).
This is an average of $600,000 per kilometre of a seven-metre wide asphalt carriageway, flanked by one metre asphalt concrete shoulders and other safety features.
Upgrading the four kilometres of access roads into the Kampala Industrial and Business Park, off the Kampala-Jinja highway, is the latest effort by the Uganda National Roads Authority and Uganda Investment Authority to give the business park a shot in the arm.
During the commissioning on May 28, Works and Transport Minister Abraham Byandala said that due to transport challenges occasioned by delayed paving of roads in the park, the government had earlier taken the decision to fast track construction of railway access, which is now operational, to ease transport for the industrialists who have already set up manufacturing plants in the business park.
The Kampala Industrial and Business Park, built to host factories and manufacturing plants, warehouses, distribution centres and other business offices, is located at Namanve, initially a forest reserve, 15km east of Kampala. It was created by an act of parliament in 1997 and de-gazetted for industrial use.
Pioneers in the park, mainly Roofings Rolling Mills, Hima Cement, Export Trading Company, Kyagalanyi Coffee and Victoria Seeds have since 2009 endured transport infrastructure headaches, as well as other major concerns like inadequate power, lack of water and fibre optic cables, as well as inadequate drainage and solid water management facilities.
These concerns have forced a number of investors to delay development of their sites as Investments Minister Gabriel Ajedra noted.
“Investors all over the world want a serviced park with basic infrastructure like power, water, railway, ICT and roads. It’s our priority as government to do all roads in the 22 industrial parks countrywide, but we could not do this all at once,” he said.
The business park has remained poorly serviced due to a number of reasons.
First, the World Bank, which had initially agreed to finance the development of much of the infrastructure, to the tune of $72 million, withdrew its support citing concerns that the industrial park was situated in an area considered to be a wetland, senior officials of Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) said.
Because of this, big manufacturing plants such as Roofings, a leading maker of galvanised steel and roofing products, for instance, are still supplied by a 33kv power line instead of the more robust 132kv.
However, UIA boss Frank Sebowa is optimistic that this challenge will be addressed as India’s Exim bank has agreed to fund a 132kv power line for Namanve.
Still, from 2006, when UIA invited investors to apply for land leases to date, only a handful of investors have set up shop in the business park.
It was designed as the country’s biggest industrial park, one that would enable Uganda’s industry to immediately leverage production for the local and export market.