Officials from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were Tuesday tasked to explain why the Old Entebbe cold chain facility, the export center for fresh products, has taken years to be refurbished
Premier Ruhakana Rugunda and Ministers Amelia Kyambadde and Matia Kasaija today Tuesday asked why CAA was denying the private sector a chance to take over the construction and renovation of the facility since they have failed to do so over years.
This was during the Policy Coordination Committee meeting that took place at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala.
Kyambadde said private developers complained to her over the issue, saying CAA had refused a proposal to finance the renovation of the facility based on the designs by CAA.
She added the facility had not been functional for over five years despite writing to CAA for a solution.
“We want to know where the issue is. If the private sector is offering to renovate the facility so that it can start working, why are you refusing to agree with them so that you just do the supervision part? Why should an issue take five years to be solved?” the agitated minister asked.
Representing CAA, Tom Davis Wasswa, said they had met with the private investors and agreed to refurbish the facility before it can be handed to them.
“Renovation will start in September this year and end in February when it will be handed over to the private sector. We have already made a budget of over Shs 1.3 bn and an announcement for the construction contract has been placed in the daily newspapers,” said Wasswa.
Observers say storage of fresh produce is limited yet Uganda has unlimited commercialization potential.
When quizzed on why they refused to let the private sector take over the work, Wasswa could not give a direct answer which prompted the Prime Minister to order the Minister of Finance to call a meeting between CAA to find a quick solution.
“You people, by insisting on doing the renovation yourselves when the private sector is willing to take it up, you are making us to suspect that you may want to take a share of this money for your private use,” said Rugunda.
“I am asking the Minister of Finance to meet the concerned parties to come to an agreement in two weeks so that that export center can start functioning immediately,” Dr Rugunda ordered.
CAA also proposed the building of a new facility in addition to the old one.
The construction of the proposed new cargo center will start in August 2017 and will go on for four years.