Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The proposal by Horyal Investment Holding Company Limited to transport more than 300 casual labourers from Kamuli to Lamwo district has suffered a setback because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The company had planned to transport the labourers to Katunguru Pa Wod Ating Village in Palabek Kal sub county to plant seed canes on 6,500 hectares of land this week.
National Agricultural Advisory Services-NAADS contracted the company to open, plough and plant sugarcane on its behalf on 15,000 hectares of land belonging to Ayuu-Alaali clan members.
However, the plans have been halted following complaints from a section of leaders in Lamwo district who argued that transporting the labourers would contradict the presidential ban on transporting huge numbers of people as one of the measures against the spread of COVID-19.
Dan Kidega, the Atiak Sugar Board chairperson told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the proposed movement of the labourers was stopped by the president after consultation with Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential adviser on epidemics.
He notes that they have welcomed the directive from the president due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kidega notes that the project is bound to suffer a great set back if the seed canes are not planted this season because the season runs between April and June.
He says there are also possibilities that the money given for the sugarcane project by the government may be returned to the consolidated fund if it isn’t utilised by the end of the June financial cycle.
He notes that since several tons of seed canes have already been brought at the plantation, they will start sourcing for local causal workers to start planting them before they get rotten.
Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Nabinson Kidega told Uganda radio network on Wednesday that a total of 400 casual workers were expected in the district this week from Kamuli district as part of a directive from the president. He said that they were to be stationed at Ngomoromo primary school in Lokung primary school for the two weeks’ mandatory quarantine before entering the plantation for work.
John Komakech Ogwok, the Lamwo district LC V chairperson says they were shocked by the directive to allow 400 people from a different district to travel into Lamwo at a time the country is battling the deadly coronavirus. He adds that the directive poses a great health risk to the local populace and notes that both leaders and locals were never informed earlier.
Don Wanyama, the Senior Presidential Spokesperson, said he wasn’t aware of the presidential directive but promised to inquire about the move.
Uganda Radio Network has established that the Executive Director Horyal Investment Company Ltd liaised with the leadership of Kamuli district three weeks ago to mobilize 400 people experienced in planting seed canes.
The casual workers were reportedly tested for HIV/Aids, Hepatitis B, Covid-19 and malaria. Only 331 people passed the test and were due to be ferried to Lamwo district.
Horyal Investment Holding Company Limited has only managed to plant seed cane on 800 hectares of the 6,500 hectares of land through 250 local casual workers.
Some 3,000 out growers have so far been mobilised to grow sugarcane in Lamwo district that will be supplied to Atiak Sugar Factory that is being established in Amuru District with the aim of livelihood improvement and poverty eradication.