NAKASONGOLA- A multi-million fish processing facility meant to improve the quality of fish in Nakasongola District has not been put to use, eight years later, Daily Monitor has established.
Government spent about Shs2.3 billion on the construction of a modern fish handling facility that included an ice block processing plant, fish handling slabs, a safe water supply system and water-borne sanitary facilities. In 2010, the ministry of Fisheries with funding from the African Development Bank embarked on the project.
While the ministry of Fisheries officials say the ice block plant meant to preserve fish was fully installed, district authorities in Nakasongola claim the ice plant had construction defects, some of which were later corrected in 2016.
But the plant was never completed since government failed to mandate the contractor to observe the liability period for the ice plant.
“When we tried to use the ice plant in 2016, it broke down in less than a year. The contractor informed us that the time for the liability period had expired before government handed over the plant to the district. We remained helpless,” Mr David Nsamba, the fisheries officer for Nakasongola District, said in a recent interview with Daily Monitor.
“It is also true that the ice block plant lacks a fence, has no paved parking space for vehicles and a water supply system. This explains our stand that the ice block plant construction process was never completed,” he said.
The ice block plant was supposed to supply ice for fish preservation to the five fish landing sites in Nakasongola District.
The project was expected to help the fishermen and dealers get ice at a cheaper cost and reduce losses incurred in transporting it from Kampala.
Mr Nsamba said they have since allowed the fishing community to occupy the facilities because some of the structures are quickly depreciating and could easily get vandalised.
Mr Edward Rukuunya, the acting commissioner for fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, says government has earmarked some funds in the 2017/2018 budget for the completion of the fish handling facility at Lwampanga Fish Landing Site.
However, he declined to mention how much money has been earmarked for the project.
The commissioner insists the ice plant at Nakasongola Town Council was completed and handed over to district authorities.
“The reported breakdown of the ice plant in Nakasongola District could be a management problem and not that the plant was never completed. Government with support from the World Bank and African Development Bank has been carrying out several projects aimed at uplifting the fisheries industry in the country. One of the projects was the upgrading of several landing sites through the construction of modern fish handling facility which was supposed to be carried out in a phased manner because the landing sites are many. This explains some delays,” Mr Rukuunya added.
According to statistics from the district fisheries department, the district currently produces about 4,500 tonnes annually and this was expected to double after completing the new facility.
“The modern fish handling facility, including the ice plant was supposed to boost fish processing for both the export and local market where the ice could easily be accessible to the fish dealers for fish preservation,” Mr Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola District chairperson said.
Fish dealers in the district currently get the ice block from Kampala.
Mr Nsamba said the district is currently mobilising funds to ensure that the ice block production plant is operational.