The first government-operated training facility has been launched, marking a significant milestone in the field of mechanical engineering and 0perations, with a primary focus of equipping learners with road construction skills.

The Mechanical Engineering Training and Advisory Centre (MENTRAC) aims to address the shortage of skilled machine operators in both the public and private sectors.

Phase 1 of MENTRAC, situated in Kakinzi, Luwero District, has been completed at a cost of 8 billion shillings. This phase includes essential infrastructure such as a gatehouse, administration block, classrooms, and maintenance facilities.

Funded by a grant from the government of Japan and implemented by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Uganda, MENTRAC occupies 10 acres of land which were purchased by the Government of Uganda.

Phase 2 of the project, estimated at 10 billion shillings, will encompass additional facilities such as a kitchen, cafeteria, dormitories, and sports facilities, further enhancing the center’s capacity.

Works and Transport Minister, Edward Katumba Wamala emphasized the critical role of skilled operators in the maintenance and utilization of road equipment, underscoring the need for targeted training initiatives to address this gap.

“The centre is poised to become a hub of excellence for training operators in various road construction equipment, including motor graders, excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders, and backhoes, catering to both public and private sector needs,” Katumba said.

The project also aims to empower local governments by providing financial support in the national budget and promoting the involvement of Ugandan citizens in government construction projects, traditionally dominated by foreign contractors.

Expected outcomes include the sustainability of construction equipment procured by the Government of Uganda, the establishment of competency-based curricula endorsed by governmental authorities, and the training of Ministry of Works and Transport employees in collaboration with project partners such as Komatsu Ltd.

Ultimately, MENTRAC seeks to equip 360 Ministry and Local Government equipment operators, along with 80 young Ugandans, with the necessary skills and opportunities for meaningful employment in the construction sector.