By Spy Uganda Investigation Team
As we write this, TheSpy Uganda can authoritative and exclusively report that it’s now three months (to be exact, from November 24 2020) since the Nakawa and Namanve Industrial park based Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) closed its meat production department, following an incident where a worker’s hand was chopped off by a mincer machine as he produced minced meat and sausages for market supply.
The victim has ably been identified as a 21-year-old Mugabe Peter, a student at Kyambogo University, who was looking for school fees to support his education but has now ended with one hand.
It’s said that after the incident, top management headed by the institute’s Executive director professor Charles Kwesiga ordered for the temporary closure of the department pending full investigations on what really happened. However, according to incubatees who use the facility, the closure has become indefinite, for now three months with no hopes of re-opening, yet they have customers to serve and bank loans to service as their businesses have since collapsed.
“These are hard times to close a business that has tried to survive Covid-19 lock down period and providing employment to Ugandans. The problem is, this professor is very arrogant, it’s a one man’s ‘show’ at UIRI, when we tried to inquire when we’re getting back to work he simply, said; ‘RUBBISH’ and switched off his phone,” one of the victims of the closure told this reporter on condition of anonymity.
Another incubatee added; “We borrowed money from banks to start up these businesses, and we’ve contractual obligations to satisfy including the poor workers who have since been laid off. About 200 workers, directly and indirectly employed by about eight companies that use UIRI facility are now jobless with hardly anything to eat, and to him that doesn’t matter. Problem is, the filthy rich professor can’t understand our pain. We’re just being tossed around like toddlers, no explanation at all to the prolonged closure. If one company had an incident, which was purely accidental, do you close all companies?, is that administration?!,” he wondered.
What Professor Kwesiga Says About The Whole Saga;
In an exclusive interview with our investigative journalist Andrew Irumba at the institute’s newly constructed USD30m worth facility in Namanve Industrial park, three weeks ago, the maverick professor blamed the incubatees whom he accused of allegedly conniving with his security at the gate, which allowed a new private machine without his knowledge and ended up causing the regrettable incident. He also accused the company of employing an inexperienced worker to operate the new machine without close supervision.
“Here we use institute’s machinery only, some body sneaked a new equipment into production which caused all this, we don’t allow private machinery,” he said. He condemned his security for the ‘lapse’ but was quick to add that still, the institute was not responsible whatsoever, even when he faulted his own security.
He also revealed that pressures from the incubatees notwithstanding, he needed no timeline within which to re-instate production, because he was still ‘digging out’ the truth behind the incident, in order to guide on the next direction.
“Among the issues is that, following the incident, we’re now looking at coming up with new guidelines altogether to further minimize such incidents in future, but as you can see, I’m very busy full time, so I can’t say tomorrow or the other day they will open, I have no deadline on that,” prof. told our reporter when asked on the possibility of reopening.
Incubatees Respond To Prof.Kwesiga’s Submission;
On condition of anonymity for fear of reprimand, six of the incubatees who talked to this reporter separately all confirmed that management has for years been allowing in personal machinery to boost individual company productivity capacity, but also the Industry’s research capabilities on latest technologies, which widen the students’ scoop of expertise, because it’s part of training that one has to grow, graduate and exit the institute, to go and establish themselves.
“Now, with all due respect, when the professor alleges that anyone can sneak a heavy machine into production and operate for even a day is just too much of dishonesty, to say the least. The policy here has been that one can bring in their private machinery to boost their production, provided the institute doesn’t have that type of machine or the technology. But they MUST be well received by security at the gate (which they did with proof), and its documentation in terms of particulars, model and ownership MUST be clear. Every machine that comes in, be it privately owned or by the institute is well documented and marked, you can’t sneak in a machine like you would do to a hand-kerchief, a machine can’t fit in your pockets!” submitted one of the incubatees.
On allegation that the company employed a half-baked worker to operate the machine, the incubatees said it was a lie because the victim had worked for several years, for several companies operating the same machinery within the institute.
“It was just a bad day; Peter has been operating the same machines here for several companies. There is nothing new, it was just that he forgot to switch off the machine when he dipped in his hand to remove meat that was stack and the machine had stopped moving, and when he removed the meat that had jammed the machine, it started rolling because he had not switched off,” They said. Dipped
Meanwhile, our sources have since learnt that Peter was never compensated neither by the institute nor the company he directly worked for, for losing his hand and was instead threatened if he narrated his ordeal to the press. He has since gone into ‘hibernation’ with his one hand. The reason he declined to take an interview with our reporter when contacted. Nevertheless, we got his side of the story from his close associates whom he confided in. Watch the space for more details on this…..!