State House has earmarked sh130b for the establishment of the presidential initiative of zonal industrial parks in fresh efforts to create employment for youth and women.

According to Lucy Nakyobe, the State House comptroller, the project aims at promoting wealth creation and economic development. She made the remarks during a verification meeting with Busoga leaders at the Jinja district council headquarters, on Wednesday.

The money, she said, will be used for establishing training centres to equip youth and women with different skills, including shoemaking, tailoring, knitting, stone cutting, ceramics, crafts, bakery, wielding and carpentry. Participants at the meeting resolved to set up the project at Nakabango Demonstration Farm located in Mafubira sub-county, Jinja district.

The leaders approved a decision by the host district to offer 20 acres of land for the initiative. The leaders in attendance included LC5 chairpersons, resident district commissioners, chief administrative officers (CAOs), commercial and production officers, district youth council chairpersons and youth councillors.

Nakyobe said the country had been zoned into 20 zones, including Busoga which comprises 11 districts. President Yoweri Museveni, she added, was spearheading the initiative. She explained that part of the funds would be used for setting up cottage industries and equipping them with machines for value addition based on what the regions produce.

Titus Kisambira, the Jinja district chairperson, assured Nakyobe that the site was suitable for the project since the district owns a freehold land title. Kisambira welcomed the project, saying he had been recommending several applicants for jobs in factories, only for them to be rejected for lack of skills.

“We want to thank the President for the industrialisation approach in tackling unemployment. The initiative will empower people to set up small-scale industries,” he said.

Saleh Kumbuga, the LC5 chairperson for Namutumba district, noted that since Busoga boasts diverse crops, machinery for value addition was vital. Kumbuga said his district has plenty of local mangoes and that they had identified 50 acres to build a processing on.

Moses Ddumba, the Kamuli Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said agro-processing machines are a prerequisite since his district grows citrus fruits from which farmers can make juice and compete for market. Erick Sakwa the Jinja RDC, suggested that they establish mini-zonal industrial parks at sub-county level, since funds were available yet the project aims at enhancing a balanced development by creating micro-economic stability.

He said this will benefit all areas. Responding to a complaint from Malijan Azalwa, the Bugiri LC5 chairperson, who claimed that the site was selected without ample consultation being done, Nakyobe said the idea was initiated by Museveni during his regional tours and that Jinja was quick to respond to the call. Nakyobe said they invited the leaders to unveil the project and asked them to fully embrace it. “We are not imposing this project on you as State House. We want you to be involved from its infancy.

Love it more than we do,” Nakyobe said. She said they would soon submit their plan for approval by the district’s physical planner. Since it is a government- funded project, the facility will be handed over to the CAOs for management, upon completion in June next year, Nakyobe said. Ayub Igulu, the chairperson Busoga Youth Forum, asked Nakyobe to ensure that the youth are represented in the project’s activities

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