Noellah Nowembabazi (C), an assistant materials engineer of Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO), checks crushed stones after weighing them inside a laboratory at the base camp in Kiti trading center, in Wakiso District, Uganda, Sept. 24, 2022. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)
KAMPALA, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- A dusty ring road, north of the Ugandan capital Kampala, is turning out to be the birthplace of dreams for young Ugandan engineers determined to take charge of their future.
Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO), a Chinese firm, was contracted to upgrade the dual-carriage 21 km road to bitumen standard from Kira to Matugga. As the Chinese engineers get to work, they are sharing knowledge and skills with young Ugandans, some fresh university graduates.
At the base camp in Kiti trading center, about 20 km north of Kampala, in one of the makeshift buildings, transformed into a laboratory, Noellah Nowembabazi, subjects some of the building materials to various tests.
Working as an assistant materials engineer, Nowembabazi told Xinhua in a recent interview, that working under her Chinese supervisor has exposed her to a lot of practical experiences, not even taught in class.
She said while at university, in her civil engineering class, most of the work was theory and little attention was given to practical work.
"I am working in the laboratory as an assistant materials engineer, I get to look at all the tests being done, the materials are either too good, or can be disregarded, or can be worked upon to be used on the road," she said.
She said her Chinese supervisors give the local employees an opportunity to work in different departments so that they can gain the skills they desire.
Besides the practical lessons, CICO also organizes online training for the workers. The training dubbed "2022 Silk Road Project of Chongqing Municipal People's Government Mayor Scholarship for Foreign Students" is carried out by Chongqing Vocational College of Architectural Engineering and CICO. The training covers various skill types such as road construction, materials, steel bars, masonry, and formwork that are needed for construction.
On the construction site, Laziban Tukashaba is inspecting whether what was agreed upon in the design is what is being implemented. Tukashaba, also a civil engineer graduate, told Xinhua in a recent interview that his Chinese supervisors have shared a lot of knowledge that he did not learn in class. At one of the culverts being constructed, Tukashaba walks with a Chinese engineer who shows him the steelworks being done by other local employees.
"Right now I have spent a year (with CICO) but most of these Chinese technicians can leave me on site and I can do some of the works that they guided me to do," he said.
He said the skills gained by the locals can be applied to many other projects. "The message I give to other youths is to become focused and concentrate on whatever they are learning. They should concentrate and gain the skills so that we can apply them in future," Tukashaba said.
Lyu Yong, one of the Chinese engineers, said the project has more than 10 Chinese engineers and hundreds of local employees.
"We want to teach the local people some skills so that when we leave this project, they can go to any project and get a good job to make their life better," Lyu said, noting that Uganda's construction industry is growing.
Lyu said besides work, the Chinese technicians engage in sports and also get to try out the different local foods.
Nowembabazi said working with the Chinese engineers and technicians is a long process that is preparing her for a better future. She dreams of being a certified engineer and handling big projects.
Tukashaba also shares the same dream as Nowembabazi and other young engineers working on the project. ■
A Chinese engineer (R) of Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) talks to workers on a road construction site at Kasangati in Wakiso District, Uganda, Sept. 26, 2022. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)
A worker of Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) puts road marks on a road construction site at Kasangati in Wakiso District, Uganda, Sept. 26, 2022. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)
Lyu Yong (2nd L, front), engineer of Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO), interacts with workers inside a laboratory at the base camp in Kiti trading center, in Wakiso District, Uganda, Sept. 24, 2022. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)