By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. The establishment of the Kiira Motor Vehicle plant is expected to create over 2000 direct jobs when fully operational, according to Ssekitooleko Kafeero, chairperson of the Parliamentary committee on Science and Technology.
Ssekitooleko, also Nakifuma County MP was speaking during a live chat on Twitter where he was giving an update regarding the Bio-safety and Bio-technology (GMO) Bill and the multi-billion Kiira Motor EV project that is expected to facilitate manufacturing of vehicles and motorcycle parts later this year.
"Kiira Motor EV is the first electric vehicle in Africa so its mass production will attract market and opportunities for Ugandans. Kiira Motors will create 940 jobs at the initial stage, 2,000 direct jobs when fully operational and 12,000 indirect jobs," Ssekitooleko said.
Kiira Motor Corporation (KMC), an automobile manufacturing company owned by Makerere University developed Africa's first electric vehicle in 2011, Africa's first hybrid vehicle in 2014 and Africa's first solar electric bus in 2016.
The project that was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in 2011 envisaged to start mass production of vehicles in 2018 despite shortage of funds that have hindered its establishment.
However, Ssekitooleko said that the project is now ready to kick off after government availed Shs140bn to kickstart the project.
"Since President Museveni launched the Kiira EV vehicle project, it has been an unfunded priority, but this year, Government has availed funds to enable works on the project to commence.
Government offered Kiira Motors land at Jinja Industrial park, 33kv power line and water is being extended to the site and the plant is expected to be ready by Dec 2019," Ssekitooleko said, adding that the project will have production capacity of 5,000 cars per year.
Apparently, works on the extension of electricity and water to the Kiira Motor Vehicle plant will be complete by end of July 2018.
Ssekitooleko said the project will also reverse the trend of having many vehicle imports and increase on the purchase of cars manufactured in Uganda.
"Taxation of imported vehicles is usually high, but with cars manufactured here at home, they will be much more affordable for Ugandans because they will not have to incur a lot of taxes," he said.
WE CAN'T AVOID GMOs
Meanwhile, Ssekitooleko whose committee is again scrutinizing the GMO Bill, has asked Ugandans to embrace the Bill saying that genetically modified organisms have already gutted our markets.
It should be noted that on 3rd and 4th October, 2017, MPs debated and controversially passed the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 also referred to as GMO Bill. However, President Museveni declined to sign the Bill into law and on 21st December 2017, wrote to the Speaker, asking Parliament to clarify on the title of the Bill, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals before he could sign the Bill.
The Bill has since then been returned to Parliament and subsequently handed to the Science and Technology committee whose report is yet to be debated.
"GMO Bill is being fought by pesticide manufacturers because they want to maintain their market share, most arguments against GMOs are lies, but we may not be able to stop the GMOs because they are already here. So, I pray that Ugandans accept that we get the Bio-safety and Bio-technology (GMO) Bill passed," he said.
He added, "We need to acquire devices that can detect GMO crops on someone's farm. Ugandans should be able to choose what to consume and what not to. So we need to put a law to check on such contentious issues."