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28 Companies Considered to Manufacture Facemasks

Rujumbura County MP Fred Turyamuhweza Tumuheirwe questioned how the government zeroed on Nytil as the sole provider for the said face masks. Turyamuhweza suggested that the government provides a standard which other Ugandans can follow to produce the masks.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga chairing the plenary session.

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Twenty-eight companies are currently being considered by the government to produce face masks that will be provided to Ugandans as the country moves to ease the Covid-19 lockdown.

The revelation was made during the Tuesday afternoon plenary sitting in which parliament tasked the government to explain how a decision for Nytil to be the only supplier of Masks across the country was reached. Several MPs raised concern over a decision by President Yoweri Museveni to tag the lifting of the current lockdown on the distribution of masks which he said are being manufactured by Nytil.

Uganda has  March been on lockdown since March, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease. To date, there  260 people have tested positive to the virus in Uganda.  But on Monday, President Museveni indicated that the government would supply free reusable masks to all Ugandans aged six years and above as a precondition for lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

But Rujumbura County MP Fred Turyamuhweza Tumuheirwe questioned how the government zeroed on Nytil as the sole provider for the said face masks. Turyamuhweza suggested that the government provides a standard which other Ugandans can follow to produce the masks.

Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare said that the use of face masks was based on scientific evidence and that the normal procurement procedure was going to be followed. She noted that several meetings on the matter are ongoing and that several other companies are being scrutinized for the job.

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Robinah Nabbanja, the State Minister of Health also emphasized that Nytil was not the sole supplier on the list. She said that altogether, there are 28 companies under consideration.

However, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga wondered how the companies were contracted since there is no public advertisement made to the effect. She equally wondered how ordinary Ugandans already making masks were going to compete with big companies.

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Kassanda County MP Patrick Nsamba said that the government should not be selective in choosing a company to provide masks and insisted on an open system where a standard is publicized so that whoever is able to produce is given a chance.

Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi said that majority in the informal sector are already working extremely hard to produce facemasks to earn a living but more importantly to contribute in the fight against COVID-19. Kyagulanyi said that the issue of face masks should not deter the government from lifting the lockdown.

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Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa said that everyone is interested in Ugandans having quality masks and that the government was engaging different groups of people to ensure that masks are produced. Speaker Kadaga said that the procurement was not clear and that it needed to be transparent.

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