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Land Commission 'not sure' how they gave away Railways' land

Uganda Land Commission officials before Cosase

Uganda Land Commission officials before Cosase

Officials from the Uganda Lands Commission struggled to explain how they allocated more acreage of Uganda Railways Corporation's (URC) land in Nsambya to investors than what was approved by the cabinet. The officials also could not explain how over Shs 69.5 billion accrued from the sale of Railways land was never paid to URC accounts.

Parliament's committee on commissions statutory authority and state enterprise (COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi is probing into the sale and giveaway of several estates belonging to URC.

In 2010, as a measure to compensate investors who had missed out on the Nakawa-Naguru land for development, President Museveni directed that URC transfers 57 acres of their Nsambya land to Uganda Land Commission (ULC), which would, in turn, allocate it to the investors. However although the cabinet approved the allocation of 32 acres to the different investors, ULC instead allocated over 62 acres.

Some of the investors who benefited from the allocation are Janet Kobusingye the owner of Mestil hotel, Charles Kimera, Islamic University, Alumus Properties, M/S Fairplay Services Limited, Kampala International University, House of Dawda, CTM Uganda Limited, Access Uganda Limited and Yas Company.

The land stretches from Mukwano factory up to Mestil hotel in Nsambya and up north in Kibuli. On Tuesday, MPs discovered discrepancies in the size of land allocated to the investors compared to what was approved by cabinet. Cosase chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi said that the main concern is on why the commission gave out more land than was approved by government.

Richard Ssebamala, the Bukoto Central MP demanded that the ULC bring the mother title of URC land in Nsambya and Kibuli, the new partition, and how the acreage was distributed.

“We need the main title of the land before it was partitioned, we also need to know how you decided on the acreage, and that is what we want," Ssebamala said.

However, ULC secretary Barbara Imaryo said they did not know how this happened and would need to go back and see how it happened.

“I would like to beg your indulgence that this was a decision of the commission, we are requesting for some more time to go back and verify,” Imaryo said.

Ssenyonyi asked the commission to bring documents clarifying discrepancies in the amounts of the land allocated. He also demanded for the original letters and directives of the president be brought to the committee by next week.

Meanwhile, the committee also discovered that businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba's Kampala International University (KIU) and two other firms were allocated part of the land without any clear procedure.

“How Kampala International University of businessman Hassan Bassajjabalaba acquires 14 acres yet it was not part of the private local investors who were listed to be given land is questionable,” Ndyomugyenyi said.

He noted that KIU was not among the firms initially allocated land in the cabinet directive for the 13 investors. However the commission said that they acted on a presidential directive of 29th September 2010 which ordered them to allocate Basajjabalaba with 20 acres to cater for university's expansion, but they only had 14 acres left.

The committee also questioned why although KIU paid a premium of Shs 675 million and annual ground rent of Shs 34 million, the development in the area is a shopping mall and not an extension of the university.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd