GULU – Leaders in Gulu district have decried the encroachment on parts of the land hosting the Presidential Industrial hub for the Acholi sub-region.
The industrial Hub located in Oding Parish, Unyama sub-county, Gulu was constructed by the government under the Presidential initiative to skill youth into the money economy. The multi-billion facility sits on 65 hectares of land.
But Gulu district chairperson, Christopher Opiyo Atekere, revealed that currently only 20 hectares of land was being utilised for skilling the youth. He said although government had initially compensated the landowners– a section was encroaching on the same land because it wasn’t fully fenced.
Atekere was on Tuesday speaking at the graduation of 212 youth from the Acholi sub-region who completed a five months certificate course in hairdressing, carpentry and joinery, welding, and Metal fabrication as well as tailoring.
The graduates are the first cohort of 22 youth each selected from the districts of Omoro, Nwoya, Amuru, Gulu, Agago, Pader, Agago, Lamwo, Kitgum, and Gulu city.
Atekere said there was a need for government to fully fence off the land and acquire a title to keep away encroachers from easily accessing it.
He noted that whereas the hub has been instrumental in helping the youth attain skills, the facility had a number of challenges – ranging from leaking roofs, flooding of students’ dormitory, unstable power supply as well as limited water supply.
Jimmy Lawrence Odong – the Industrial Hub Manager reiterated the need for government to fence the institution’s land since community members were taking advantage – highlighting that many were cutting down trees for charcoal.
He said initially, 220 youth were selected from the ten districts but dropped out due to various challenges – including diseases.
According to Odong, the initiative has proved that skilling youth in vocational abilities was vital –calling on government to increase the current enrolment of youth from 220 to 500 in the region.
Kilak South MP in Amuru district appealed to government to emphasise skilling youth in vocational courses as a way of directly introducing the beneficiaries to the money economy. He advised the graduates not only to rely on their certificates but update their educational levels after making money through their acquired skills.
Jane Barekye, the State House comptroller, who presided at the function as chief guest lauded students for exemplary discipline throughout their five-month stay at the centre.
Barekye revealed that government intended to install a common user facility at the institution where students who graduated could utilise the place for their individual work without necessarily paying fees for hiring.
She however said the current selection of the beneficiaries from the districts in the region would remain at 220 – citing resource constraints on the side of government to host select 500 as demanded by leaders in the region.
The Acholi Industrial Hub is one of the 22 zonal facilities established countrywide through the Presidential Initiative on Skills Development to empower disadvantaged youth aged between 18 and 28, who have been unable to get an opportunity to attain formal education and join the money economy.
Additional reporting by URN