Some businesses within Centenary park could face disruptions if a row between city authorities and the park’s management deepens.
A planned road project near Centenary park greenbelt on Jinja road has revived an old dispute between its manager, Sarah Kizito Nyakana, and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
The dispute resurfaced after KCCA wrote on December 7, 2016 to Sarah Kizito Nyakana, the managing director of Nalongo Estates Ltd, the company managing Centenary park, to hand it over for road construction.
“The letter is notice to you that the term of the said subleases has elapsed; and by law, you are required to now surrender the premises to the landlord [KCCA]. Accordingly, I am instructed to demand, as I hereby do, that you deliver and hand over vacant possession of the said properties to KCCA within 30 days…” wrote Micheal Okua, KCCA’s legal officer, on behalf of Musisi.
On receiving the letter, Kizito petitioned Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. She reminded him that the defunct KCC offered her a 49-year lease beginning on January 1, 2011, effectively rescinding the maintenance agreement.
On December 15, 2016, the KCCA council meeting chaired by Lukwago resolved to halt the eviction until the council’s legal and physical planning committees convened and guided the Authority.
When the two committees convened on January 4, 2017, they resolved that Nalongo Estates shouldn’t be evicted but that the company’s leasehold on Centenary park should be formalised by KCCA.
Kizito got the lease at the urging of President Museveni who, in late 2010, wrote to KCC directing that Nyakana’s wife should be leased the two plots; 34E and 38E on Jinja road opposite the Electoral Commission premises.
“Considering further that council was not earning revenue in form of premium and ground rent, it was prudent that council leases Centenary park to the sitting tenant,” says the minute from the KCC works, water and policy committee convened by its chairman then, Abdu Mayanja, dated January 13, 2011.
However, that notwithstanding, Okua last week wrote to Kizito reminding her to hand over the park to KCCA. According to Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson, part of the park is going to be used by Unra to construct a flyover at the Jinja road junction.
Kizito couldn’t be reached for an interview but her husband, Godfrey Nyakana, the former mayor, Kampala Central division, said on Thursday, January 5, that Musisi should back off Centenary park.
“Musisi or Okua are not KCCA but mere workers there who must implement what the lord mayor and the lord councilors direct them to do. She caused financial loss worth Shs 800m to Nalongo Estate, which KCCA paid a few days back. If she wants to make the Authority lose more [money], let her tamper with Centenary park,” Nyakana, who is also the NRM chairman for Kampala district, said on January 5.
In 2012, an eviction ordered by Musisi enlisted ugly scenes when KCCA’s law enforcement officers almost beat up the minister for Trade, Amelia Kyambadde, who tried to stop them from demolishing the temporary structures in the park.
Kizito ran to court, accusing KCCA of illegal eviction and destruction of property and the court awarded Nalongo Estate Shs 800m. In May 2012, KCCA took the first step towards clearing Centenary park of illegal tenants in its bid to restore the green area in the park three days before the scheduled deadline.
In the ensuing melee between KCCA, police and the Nyakana family, Kizito was violently removed from the park. She was later transferred to Central police station, Kampala where she recorded a statement.
Years later, the battle is back. If KCCA carries the day, about 10 of Kizito’s tenants could be pushed out of business. But Nyakana has vowed to do whatever it takes to stop the eviction.
“I don’t know why Musisi is eager to have this park because in 2012 she tried to convince the Authority to rescind our maintenance agreement and the Council refused. She also refused to formalise our lease offer,” Nyakana said.
Nalongo Estates Ltd is owned by three sisters: Sarah Kizito, Babirye Kizito, and Aisha Kizito, who also run the famous Lady Charlotte beauty salon and boutique in the city.