By John Odyek and Faustine Odeke
President Yoweri Museveni has said unscrupulous people he described as “extortionists” have delayed the construction of the $620m (sh1.6 trillion) Uganda Sukulu Phosphate Comprehensive Industrial Development Project in Tororo district for two years.
President Museveni (2nd L) and Dr. Weidong (2nd R), President of Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Ltd cutting a tape at the ground breaking ceremony of Sukulu Phosphets Project in Tororo district on Monday. Looking on is Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (L) and Energy Minister Irene Muloni (R).
Museveni warned that extorting money from investors creates a bad image for the country and undermines development.
The President made the statement during the breaking-of-the-ground ceremony for the project in Sukulu, Tororo Monday.
The project covering 26.5 square kilometres in Sukulu and Rubongi subcounties will manufacture key products such as phosphate fertilisers, steel products, sulphuric acid, rare earth minerals and generate electricity.
President Yoweri Museveni (with hat) and Dr. Lv Weidong (L) the President of Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Ltd performing the ground breaking ceremony of Sukulu Phosphets Project in Tororo district on Monday.
“I have been telling Chinese investors to be careful about Ugandans who want to steal money from them. You (Ugandans) want to steal money from investors without shame. What are you asking money for?” Museveni asked.
The project is expected to start production in December 2016. The President said the breaking-of-theground event should have been done two years ago, but the project was delayed by people demanding money from the investors as well as the land compensation disputes.
Energy Minister Irene Muloni (M) showing President Yoweri Museveni (2nd R) the plan of Sukulu Phosphates Project on bill boards after the ground breaking ceremony of the phosphates project in Tororo on Monday. Looking on is Dr. Lv Weidong (L) the President of Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Ltd and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (R).
Museveni addressed a public rally at Sukulu Primary School that was attended by area MPs, ministers and district officials. He said the project would earn Uganda $600m (sh1.6 trillion) annually.
Museveni reiterated that the money generated from minerals and oil would be used to create sustainable wealth for Uganda through investment in infrastructure development, agriculture and human capital development.
He said recent surveys have proved that Uganda is endowed with many minerals such as gold, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum and vermiculite.
The President thanked the people of Tororo for electing the NRM government, saying if they had elected opposition leaders such as Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, Aggrey Awori and Paul Ssemogerere, they would not have seen such an opportunity to celebrate this achievement.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said the production of fertilisers would boost agricultural productivity. He said Uganda’s soil fertility and agricultural productivity had declined and the use of fertilisers was necessary.
President Yoweri Museveni (R) shaking hands with Dr. Lv Weidong (L) the President of Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Ltd after performing the ground breaking ceremony of Sukulu Phosphets Project in Tororo district on Monday.
Irene Muloni, the energy minister, said phosphates were discovered in the area in 1954, but no plant was developed to exploit the mineral. She said the project has affected 124 households and 120 have been engaged by the investor to acquire land surface rights from them.
Muloni said the investor was given an exploration licence in August 2013 and would be given a mining lease now. She said the mining lease would be given for a period of 21 years, renewable for 15 years.
President Yoweri Museveni (atop a vehicle) waving to Tororo residents on arrival at a rally at Osukuru P/S in Tororo on Monday after performing the ground breaking ceremony of Sukulu Phosphates Project.
Lv Weidong, the president of Guangzhou Donsgong Energy Group, the Chinese company undertaking the project, said the project would deepen co-operation between China and Uganda.
“I hope the Government will continue supporting the project. Our company has advanced technology. We will provide affordable fertilisers to Uganda’s farmers and it will improve their productivity and income,” Weidong said.