The Uganda Land Commission has been sucked into the dispute between Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Parliament over the construction of the new parliamentary chambers.
Last week, KCCA through its director Physical Planning Moses Atwine ordered Parliament to halt the ongoing construction of the Shs 180 billion chamber, saying the new building plan has not been approved by the Authority.
KCCA accuses Parliament of deviating from the original approved plan, adding that the new plan would encroach on the open space of Chogm gardens along Apollo Kaggwa road.
But in the latest development, the Land Commission has indicated willingness to issue to Parliament a title to the contested land covering the Chogm monument park.
"Reference is made to approval no. 715/17 of your building application dated 3rd August 2017 to expand the existing parliamentary chambers on plots 13 -15 Parliamentary Avenue and 16- 18 Apollo Kaggwa road. Following our mandatory inspections conducted on your site on 13th November 2017, it was observed that the design for the new chambers had been altered." reads part of the November 22 letter signed by Atwine and addressed to Jane Kibirige, Clerk to Parliament.
Atwine notes that the planned construction project by Parliament will encroach on the open space along Apollo Kaggwa road, which is currently used as Chogm gardens. KCCA also noted that part of the roof on the eastern side of the revised structure will hang over the reserve of Siad Barre road.
New correspondences seen by URN show that Uganda Land Commission is in the process of issuing Parliament a title for the contested land covering the Chogm monument park. The Commission chairperson, Baguma Isoke wrote to the Speaker of Parliament on November 22 communicating the decision.
"It is now clear that the triangular shaped land where stands the Chogm monument is the extension which Parliament applied for. I am now taking steps to survey that piece of land, produce deed plans and issue a new Certificate of Title with the ownership being Uganda Land Commission (the Parliament of Uganda)." reads Baguma's letter.
He was responding to a letter from Kibirige addressed to the commissioner Surveys and Mapping in the Land Commission over the said land.
In his letter, Baguma notes that during the re-designing of the road system around Parliamentary building, the former Police headquarters and ministry of Finance, part of Sir Apollo Kaggwa road was blocked off from the Crested Towers round about and that the Chogm gardens initially formed part of the ministry of Finance land.
On the same date, Baguma wrote to the permanent secretary ministry of Lands, Dorcus Okalany requesting her to cause cadastral survey and production of deed plans to enable the titling process to commence.
Kibirige yesterday wrote to M/S Ssentoogo and Partners, the architects and planning consultants of Parliament about the cadastral survey and deed plans for the Chogm monument park.
"Reference is made to the two letters dated 23rd November 2017 to the Speaker of Parliament and the commissioner Surveys and Mapping from the chairman, Uganda Land Commission informing the speaker that the land covering the Chogm monument park is going to be surveyed and deed plans produced to issue a new Certificate of Title with the ownership being Uganda Land Commission (the Parliament of Uganda)." reads part of Kibirige's letter.
Kibirige directed the architects to take appropriate action so that the ongoing construction work isn't interrupted.
Chris Obore, the director communications and public affairs in Parliament, has confirmed the developments saying Parliament applied for the Chogm gardens land so that it can be used by its visitors.
"The Land Commission has only considered our application to give us that land for the purpose that we want to use it. That we get so many visitors and you find that Parliament is squeezed and we keep asking KCCA for authority to use it when it was not even KCCA land. It was Land Commission land. So we’re very happy with the Land Commission chairman for deciding to surveyor that land and allowing us to offer services through it", Obore said.
However, Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson, says KCCA is the body in charge of planning and approving any construction plans in the city.
"We have been in touch with Parliament and guided them on what needed to be done. So, I am wondering what the connection is between approval for the plan and them asking for a title. It's an issue of planning and we guided them on what needed to be done," said Kaujju.
Asked what was KCCA's guidance to Parliament, Kaujju asked for more time, saying he was held up in a meeting. On August 3, 2016, KCCA approved the expansion of the parliamentary chambers on plots 13 -15 Parliamentary Avenue and 16- 18 Apollo Kaggwa Road.
The construction work kicked off this year following a year of allegations of collusion between rival firms and technocrats during the tendering process.
Roko Construction Company is expected to construct a new state of the art Chamber, modify the existing one and build a Hall of Honour.