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UPDF engineers’ railway training is very strategic

Ten UPDF engineers are set to go to China for training in railway construction.

The training deal is part of the Standard Gauge Railway construction contract between the government of Uganda and Chinese construction firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which is undertaking the Shs 7.6 trillion project.

Government officials who negotiated this aspect of the contract must be commended for thinking strategically.

Too often, contracts signed by the government lack the necessary foresight that would enable Ugandans to reap maximum benefits from the concerned projects.

With the country spending big on infrastructure development, local content is of paramount importance. But local content only makes sense in the presence of a pool of skilled indigenous labour to take advantage of it.

No country can ever develop by relying on outsiders to do everything. The Chinese, the Indians, the South Koreans and the Turks, among others, have obtained the skills that are in demand here today by building their own roads and railways over the years.

In the near future, Ugandans must be able to build their own highways, railways, bridges, dams and airports, and it begins with adequate training of key personnel such as the UPDF is doing.

If the SGR is to be extended to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda as planned, it presents immense opportunities for Ugandan engineers and other technicians to get employment, learn skills and transfer technology.

Hopefully with more such training programmes, the UPDF will be in position to undertake future mega infrastructure projects in Uganda and perhaps neighbouring countries.

Unless Ugandans are armed with the requisite skills, not only will they be unable to play a significant part in the construction of their own infrastructure, it will also take the Chinese to manage the same projects for many years thereafter in the absence of skilled indigenous labour.

In addition to compelling foreign contractors to use locally available goods and services where possible, the government should, as in the SGR case, seek to have Ugandans trained in the necessary skills needed to propel our country’s transformation aspiration.


+1 #1 edo 2017-10-11 10:20
are you serious? involving the army in civilian work?? then how will public service officials handle the recruitment later on?

will the army eventually manage the uganda railways too??
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0 #2 bingi 2017-10-11 19:32
I am disappointed by this editorial. Whereas the idea of sending Ugandans to study and understudy specific skills, but sending the army is another unfortunate admission of the systemic failure of the present regime.

So now the army will build the railway and probably run it after completion!

The army is already running Operation Wealth Creation (Agriculture) The army will soon run the whole govt or is probably doing so.

This is not only militarising this country but it also shows that the relevant sectors of govt are not functional. So how can Observer celebrate? This is not only abnormal but unfortunate, we should not condone militarisation of Uganda.
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