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Human resource shortage hurts Kitgum market construction progress

Ongoing construction works at Block A at the Multi-billion Kitgum Main Market.

Kitgum, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The construction of the Kitgum modern Market has suffered a setback due to lack of skilled labourers. 

Construction of the Shillings 23 billion Market commenced in June 2019 under the China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. The construction work was expected to end by June this year, according to the contract agreement.

However, with just five months to the contract deadline, Alexis Abonga, the Kitgum Municipal Council Engineer says the contractor is facing great challenges with human resource at the market. Abonga told Uganda Radio Network in an interview during a site visit at the market that the contractor is short of carpenters needed to undertake frameworks. 

He says they have thus embarked on sourcing experienced carpenters from other regions, adding that at least 20 were ferried from Soroti District to expedite the construction works.

Abonga notes that whereas the contractor has registered 50 percent progress in constructing block A and 30 percent progress at Block B, the human resource shortage is likely to affect work. Already at Block A, the construction of the basement has been completed while casting the ground floors and construction of first floor and vendor’s stalls are almost complete with the contractor now undertaking the second-floor construction. 

Abonga says although the contract deadline is nearing, they are optimistic that the contractor can still deliver the market. He however notes that the contractor has been informed to notify the Municipal Authorities on a need for a possible contract extension in case they won’t be able to deliver as per the contract. 

Wang Zhi Wei, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd Site Manager acknowledges the challenges adding that they need 50 carpenters at the site. Wei, however, says that they currently have a shortage of 30 carpenters, adding that those they had previously employed have abandoned work. 

“We had about 34 carpenters on site but now we have only 20. Some of those we had didn’t return to work yet we have a lot of space where we expect to deploy them,” he said. According to Wei, they will now look at the alternative of sourcing for the labourers from Kampala and Lira. 

An official from Saba Engineering Private Ltd Company, the supervising consultancy firm who didn’t want to be named disclosed that they currently have a shortage of close to 140 casual labourers at the site. He says the challenge has pushed construction work behind schedule by close to four months.

“If they could mobilize more workers, there could be night shifts and the work period will be closed faster,” he said. According to him, the contractor has only about 160 casual labourers on-site yet they should have employed close to 300 casual labourers.

Kitgum main Market is being constructed with funding from the African Development Bank-AfDB under the second phase of the Market and Agricultural Trade Improvement (MATIP).



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