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Why Construction of Kigezi’s Iron Ore Factory has Stalled

As the campaigns for next year’s general elections gain momentum around the country, one of the issues on the minds of many people in Kigezi region is the pending construction of a mega iron ore factory in the region.

The factory is one of the promises made to the residents by President Museveni in the 2016 election.

But to this date, the project remains on paper with little prospect for commencement in the near future, due to a number of serious hurdles.

Background

Government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development conducted geological surveys between 2006 and 2008, which confirmed the existence of up to 250 million tons of Iron ore deposits in the Kigezi region.

Available data indicates that Iron ore deposits graded at 60% iron were mostly discovered in Kanungu, Kisoro, Rubanda and Kabale districts.

In March 2019, Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and political leaders from Kigezi Sub-region led officials from Devki Group of Companies, a company that was authorised to establish an iron smelting factory, to inspect a 250-acre piece of public land located in Kabirizi, Kanyamatembe and Kishaki villages in Rubanda town council where the factory will be established.

This land was endorsed by the Rubanda District Council in 2018 to pave way for the plant valued at USD 200 million (735 billion shillings).

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But since then, progress has been made.

According to Eng. Denis Sabiiti Bamwoya, the Rubanda West MP, the investor has since cited a number of stumbling blocks that need to be cleared before construction of the factor can commence.

The MP says among the others; the investor has requested a high voltage power line that is not yet available in the region.

The plant reportedly requires a voltage line with a minimum of 132KV, yet the nearest power line with such strength is in Mbarara.

The factory reportedly also requires a lot of gas, and according to the MP, this can only be available once the pumping of oil from the Albertine region starts.

Sabiiti however, is optimistic that the government could solve the conditions in about two years and make the long-awaited promise possible.

“Once this factory is built, it will employ between 6000 to 10000 people which is a big advantage to the population that has been crying of unemployment,” he added.

Sabiiti made these remarks on Monday while addressing press with other NRM leaders after a meeting that was aimed at planning for the forthcoming elections and the presidential visit on December 12.

Henry Musasizi, the Rubanda West Member of Parliament said that as residents wait for the fulfilment of this pledge, they should continue supporting the NRM party because it has citizens at heart.

“We must support this party from the president to the ground level if we surely need development to occur,” he said.

Musasizi also warned party members against supporting independent candidates which contravenes the party interests

“If you are NRM, you must be ready to support the party flag bearers without fail. NRM will definitely deal strongly with party members who will be found supporting other candidates apart from our own,” he said.

Prossy Akampurira Begumisa, the Rubanda district Woman Member of Parliament said that party leaders will be moving in villages to campaign for the flag bearers and also to seek for community concerns that will be presented to the president during his campaign meeting.

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