The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali has dismissed media reports indicating that the Church House building on Kampala Road is to be auctioned off by a bank so as to recover its loan money advanced to the church recently.
Addressing pilgrims at the Anglican shrine, in reference to the Sunday Vision story, President Yoweri Museveni expressed concern that the Church House, to which he contributed Shs 300 million towards its construction was up for auction.
According to story, the property is at risk of being auctioned off by Equity bank that extended Shs 43 billion loan towards the construction of the 16 storey building over non-payment. The report said that the bank wanted to auction off the building last year in a bid to recover the money it invested in the project.
The structure was estimated to cost Shs 61.6 billion once completed with Christians contributing towards the church project for the past 40 years and additional funding provided by Equity bank.
"On Church House, I saw in the papers that they were threatening…something was happening but I pledged…we cannot allow that to happen. I will discuss with your leaders because you have done a great job to put up that tall building. It should become a base not to be taken over by the business people." Museveni said.
Calling the report total lies being peddled by the enemies of the church, Ntagali explained that Equity bank is a church partner in the project and that the building contractor, Cementers are to hand over the building to the Anglican Church this month on June 14.
"Your excellency what you, and, all of us read in the papers, are total lies, we’ve a representative of Equity bank our partner and our contractors, Cementers are handing over the building to us on 14th this month. This month, Equity bank is set to move from Katwe to Church House next month.
The Church holdings missions company has planned that during the assembly on 23rd August, we officially open the building and we’re inviting you your excellency to be our guest of honour on that day. Let us forgive New Vision for the propaganda, those are not our friends who put that article and may God forgive them." said Ntangali.
MORE PILGRIMS THIS YEAR
It is estimated that there were more pilgrims this year who converged at both the Catholic and Anglican shrines in Namugongo to celebrate the lives of 46 martyrs killed between 1885 and 1887.
It is estimated that about four million pilgrims from within and outside Uganda flocked to both shrines to attend the country's most attended event. Every June 3rd, faithfuls especially Anglicans and Catholics take part in a pilgrimage to the martyrs shrines in Namugongo.
Traffic in the surrounding areas of Namugongo was also noticeably affected with those driving having to take longer routes to get to their destinations. Harriet Nabitalo, resident of Namugongo, says on top of closing the roads, transport fares were also hiked.
From Namugongo to Kireka boda boda cyclists were charging Shs 5,000 from the usual Shs 2,000 fare while from Kireka to town, taxis were charging Shs 3,000 from the usual Shs 1,500.
For some residents however, Martyrs Day brought with it several business opportunities. William Kato, a resident in the area increased the price of 20 litre jerrycan of water from Shs 200 to Shs 1,000.
Several homesteads also opened up their toilet facilities for commercial benefit with some charging as high as Shs 2,000 per person. Steward Cadribo, a security guard at Shrine guesthouse near St. Kizito high school, Namugongo said one had to part with Shs 1,500 and Shs 2,000 to access his bathrooms and toilet facilities.
Cadribo was also charging between Shs 5,000 and Shs 15,000 as parking fees per vehicle. He said because of the Martyrs Day, which he wanted to be extended beyond June 3, he's able to make lots money from the over 50 vehicles his parking lot is able to accommodate.