Through a grant from the Government of Japan, the Ministry of Works and Transport has commenced the construction of a Mechanical Engineering Training Centre in Kakizi, Luwero District.
The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Katumba Wamala and the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda H.E Hidemoto Fukuzawa, broke ground for the construction of this training center on the 5th of April, 2023.
The ground breaking ceremony was of great significance as the Mechanical Engineering Training and Advisory Centre (METRAC) as it has been named, will be Uganda’s first mechanical engineering training center. The project’s primary objective is to address the skills gap for the operation and maintenance of road construction equipment which also will greatly improve the problem of youth unemployment in the country.
The Government of Uganda secured grant aid from the Government of Japan for establishment of a training center, the grant was under a category that required a 3rd party implementing agency which in this case was the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The Ministry subsequently organized a signing ceremony of the Exchange of Notes between the Government of Japan and UNIDO on 8th August 2019 of which the Hon. Minister personally presided and later signed the project document between UNIDO and the Ministry on 26th October 2021.
In 2017, the Government of Uganda invested USD 155 million to purchase a total of 1,151 units of road equipment from Japan in an effort to improve the district road network. With this huge investment in road construction equipment both in Government and the private sector, there was no commensurate effort in developing the human resource to operate and maintain the road equipment
The Chief Mechanical Engineer who represented the Permanent Secretary at the groundbreaking ceremony explained how the idea of constructing a training center was first conceived.
“The need for a training center arose following an understudy conducted in 2015 by Sumitomo Corporation, the suppliers of the road equipment from Japan and Komatsu Ltd the manufacturers. The two dispatched a team to understudy the causes of early equipment failure and frequent breakdowns which team discovered that the human factor was the biggest contributor to this problem”, explained Eng. Tony Kavuma.
He further explained that the Ministry then worked with Sumitomo Corporation and Komatsu and agreed that the solution to perennial machine breakdowns was to establish an operator training center to improve the quality of training in order to churn out skilled operators.
While the Japanese Government provided a grant, the Government of Uganda, purchased the 10 acres of land at Kakinzi Luwero on which the training center will be constructed. Additionally, the government provided the Trainer of Trainees who were trained and certified by the Directorate of Industrial Training-DIT. The Permanent Secretary’s speech also revealed that the Government has made a provision of Ushs. 1 billion in next FY’s budget for construction of a kitchen and cafeteria under phase 2 of the project.
“We stand here today to witness the groundbreaking of METRAC, Uganda’s first training center for road construction equipment operators. After the MoWT bought this land, we have done a topographic survey and geotechnical investigations, we have drilled boreholes and I am being told that the technical staff of MOWT and UNIDO had many discussions on the procedure and way forward in their Technical Committee,” remarked the UNIDO Country Representative, Bruno Otto Tokwiny.
He further explained that the project partners have developed a master plan for the site and detailed drawings for the buildings that will be built including a workshop to service the machines, several classrooms to train the operators, an administrative building for the instructors, and a gatehouse.
UNIDO, the implementing partner selected a construction company through an open international procurement process – Cornerstone Design and Engineering which is expected to have completed the construction works in the next 9 months.