A total of 10 companies under the Uganda Manufacturers Association have started courting government so as to win the deal to produce facemasks that are set to be distributed to Ugandans above the age of six.
On Monday, President Museveni announced that Nytil would manufacture facemasks that would see every Ugandan citizens given at least a piece of the gear as the country prepares to lift the lockdown.
"We are going to open up but opening up will require you to wear masks. These masks will be ready in two weeks. The opening up is all tied to the masks and the masks are ready in two weeks."
According to Nytil, they can manufacture between 300,000 and 500,000 masks per day and this means, it will take more than two weeks for the company to manufacture enough equipment for all Ugandans.
On Tuesday, representatives from the 10 manufacturers met with officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Health in a bid to see how to beat what seems a toll order to manufacture over 40 million masks in a period of less than two weeks.
In the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr.Ruhakana Rugunda, government and the companies agreed on a number of issues to be followed before the deal to manufacture masks is given out.
According to Daniel Birungi, the Uganda Manufacturers Association Executive Director, both parties agreed that the specification acceptbale for masks shall be two ply of cotton fabric with an opening that can be used to insert a filter by the user where possible.
“It was resolved that the masks shall be of any colour other than red, blue, green and yellow associated with political organisations whereas individual potential suppliers were to contract as individual entities to ease traceability and accountability for public funds involved to ensure good value for money,” Birungi said.
The meeting also resolved that no form of branding shall be applicable to the masks to ensure that production capacity is not compromised whereas the confirmed daily capacity should be in the region of 1,120,300 facemasks per day for participating entities .
The samples by the 10 companies will be shared with Uganda Manufacturers Association that will in return submit them to the Ministry of Health today, Wednesday.
Parliament questions Nytil deal
The development came on the backdrop of queries by Parliament on how Nytil was given the deal to manufacture the facemasks.
On Tuesday, several legislators led by Kawempe North’s Latif Ssebaggala questioned the capability of Nytil to produce the required number of facemasks in within two weeks as ordered by the president.
“I do not think it will be possible to distribute masks around the whole country in two weeks. Let the government allow people to move with the masks they have purchased for themselves,”Ssebaggala told parliament.
Kyadondo East legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi also reasoned with Latif Ssebaggala saying it is wrong to peg opening of public transport to production and distribution of facemasks by government yet individuals have purchased their own gear that they can wear and public transport resumes.
In response, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga directed that the deal to manufacture should not be left for only Nytil but for all companies that have the capacity to manufacture the facemasks.