Although government has clarified that 19 companies besides Nytil have been engaged to ensure face masks are availed to 35 million Ugandans in two weeks, the firms need 31 days to deliver.
In his televised address to the nation on Monday, President Museveni pegged the major lifting of lockdown, especially public transport, on the availability of “quality” masks to all Ugandans aged six years and above.
The President also said government would work with Nytil to produce the masks.
However, in a meeting between manufacturers and government officials yesterday, Ms Eveline Anite, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatisation, said 19 more companies have since been engaged to expedite the process.
Nytil has a capacity to make 250,000 masks per day. This means they need 140 days to make enough masks for the said population.
Although government included more companies, a Tuesday report from Uganda Manufacturers Association shows the maximum production capacity of all the 19 companies is 1,120,300 masks per day. The companies would still need at least 31 days to manufacture the masks.
In response to this concern, Ms Anite said government is asking more firms in the textile industry to come up.
“It is wrong for anyone to assume that government gave a contract to Nytil as the only company that will make the facemasks. We are not going to do that,” Ms Anite said.
“Already, we have 19 companies that have shown interest to make the masks and we are calling on other companies out there who have capacity to come up,” she added.
Ms Anite said at least 15,000 more jobs will be created.
During the meeting, officials from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and National Drug Authority said they would reduce the inspection and certification processes for manufacturers from the one week or more to a day or two.
Ms Patricia Bageine Ejalu, the UNBS deputy executive director, said their current online certification system will fasten the processes and eliminate bribery.
“You (manufacturer) should show interest after ensuring that you are already making masks. We shall send our team to inspect your facility and get samples of the facemasks. From then all our audit and assessment are made online and so you don’t need to come to our office,” she said.
Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, the NDA board chairperson, said he has more than 270 workers and eight vehicles ready to inspect the companies.
“UNBS and NDA
will work as a team. All we are doing is to protect Ugandans,” he said.
Ms Anite said government would not import masks.
“We are not
going to give our hard-earned money to import from foreign countries,” she
The minister said government would give manufacturers capital to facilitate them for those who are constrained by finances.
Ms Anite, however, said only those who are already making masks and their samples have met quality will be financed.
“All you have to do is write to us a letter specifying your capacity and financial need. We have loans with very low interest rates waiting for you at Uganda Development Bank,” she said. The minister also said government would link the local manufacturers to foreign markets such as Europe.
Ms Anite said government will also carry out assessment to give tax waiver and consider tax returns for the companies basing on the request to Uganda Revenue Authority.
“We will make electricity available and affordable for you [the manufacturers of facemasks],” she added.
Although some companies said the masks were supposed to be uniform in terms of colour and other features, UNBS and NDA said the masks should give flexibility for innovators.
“We want to see your art. The issue is protecting Ugandans from contracting coronavirus,” Ms Anite said.
Dr Denis Mwesigye, the director of Inspection and Enforcement at NDA, said any mask made must be able to block bacteria and viruses, breathable and ensure cleanliness.
Ms Ejalu said the masks are innovations that cannot be forced to look the same.
manufacturers also raised the concern on the challenge with transporting their
Ms Anite advised manufacturers to pick their workers or let them stay at the factory premises.
masks ready in 2 weeks – govt
Government will only have 11.2m face masks that will have been produced within the two weeks from Monday.
The State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Dr Joyce Kaducu Moriku, told Parliament yesterday that government will need to zone the country and distribute the masks in phases as more are being produced.
Dr Moriku said the companies being considered to manufacture the masks can only produce 800,000 per day. She, however, did not explain the procedure by which the country will be zoned. President Museveni on Monday said easing of the lockdown will be tagged on government distribution of face masks.
For groups whose businesses will be opened by June 4, each person will be required to wear a mask in public. However, MPs questioned the readiness of the country to have masks to cover everyone by June 4.
Dr Moriku said there was an ongoing discussion with small scale industries under KCCA and those under the Local Governments to produce the masks.
Companies Masks per day
Beier Safety and Security Ltd 10,000
Big Concepts Ltd 5,000
EX-KEN Uganda Ltd 15,000
Christex Garment Ltd 10,000
Fine Spinners 400,000
Graphic Systemss Ltd 50,000
SA Field Ltd 1,000
Lily Benefit Investments Ltd 10,000
Sigma Knitting Industries 15,000
Southern Range Nyanza, Nytil 250,000
Unique Uniforms Ltd 10,000
Winfred Fashions Designers 2,000
Motiv creation Ltd 1,800
Silk Events Ltd 10,000
Uganda Police Force 8,000
The Northern Rock Invst Ltd 7,500
Lida Packaging Products Ltd 300,000