By Robert Adiga
The group of women selling mukene (silverfish) in Arua City has started constructing a two-storeyed commercial building.
The 139-roomed house located on Plot 4 Go-down Close in the centre of the city is expected to cost sh4.6b.
The group, which was formed by 23 founding members in 1995, currently has a membership of over 200 mainly women dealing in mukene and has been registered as a limited company in the name of Arua Women Business Enterprise (U) Ltd.
Currently, the construction work has kicked off with sh200m the group raised from the hire of a makeshift structure.
Call for help
The determined women now look up to the Government and other partners for support after their repeated attempts to secure housing loans from commercial banks have failed to yield any positive results.
Zenna Ocokoru, the chairperson of the group, said their plan is to improve the standard of their plot with modern buildings as they are surrounded by the well-built KKT Plaza and the newly constructed main market.
Ocokoru said all their efforts to secure a loan from the commercial banks have failed since they have not put anything on the ground, but she is optimistic that after the start of the work, they will be able to secure a loan from the banks to continue with the works.
“We have been hearing that the Government is passionate about organised women groups and we have written a lot of project proposals aimed at getting support, but we have failed,” she added.
Felister Osobiru, a founding member of the company, is optimistic that the group will benefit a lot from the project once completed.
“People have been laughing at us in this business because mukene business looks dirty and unhealthy as we move with a lot of smell. However, we are happy that at least each and every one in this business has managed to achieve something and we have paid school fees for our children using this business and also purchased plots of land,” Osobiru says.
Albert Dramadri Newton, a retired civil servant who inherited the business from his late wife in 2003, and is now the advisor to the company, revealed that they have charged each founding member sh11m to be contributed towards the construction project which amount is spread across five years.
David Avutia, an engineer assigned to oversee the project, commended the mukene dealers for the initiative and committed to ensuring that quality work is delivered.
“The shillings 200 million they have can start the work as they keep mobilising for more funds,” Avutia said.