KAMPALA: Members of Parliament on the Adhoc Committee investigating the allocation of land at the former Nakawa-Naguru Housing Estate have discovered that the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) did not advertise for the land before it was allocated.
On Tuesday, officials from the ULC, led by the Acting Chairperson, Prof Nyeko Pen-Mogi, appeared before the committee that is currently inquiring into the process of distribution of 82.05 acres of land to different investors.
During the meeting, Andrew Nyumba, the Acting Secretary of ULC, said that on January 13, 2022, the Commission revised earlier allocations of land at Nakawa-Naguru and distributed a total of 25 acres to the Internal Medicine of Virginia, 15 acres, the Uganda Heart Institute, 10 acres, the KCCA Nakawa Division offices, 3.09 acres, Naguru Infant Primary School, 1 acre, St. Peters Church of Uganda, 1.05 acres, and Ntinda Whole Sellers, 2 acres. He said that this was in line with President Yoweri Museveni’s directive.
He added that another 38 acres were distributed to investors. These are Anil Damani’s 3 acres, Arab Oil Supplies and Exploration Limited 4 acres, Dashen (U) Limited 3 acres, Dembe Enterprises Limited 3 acres, Dominion Partners Limited 1 acre, EACOM International Limited 1 acre, and others.
Nyumba further explained that after the distribution, the Commission received an assessment of premium and ground rent from the Chief Government Valuer, indicating what each of the entities that were allocated land was supposed to pay. The total premium was Shs20.451 billion, while ground rent totaled Shs1.22 billion.
‘Whereas the total expected collections of premium and ground rent were Shs21.473 billion, some of the allocated funds were given a waiver by the Minister of Lands, and with this waiver, they were meant to pay Shs20,000 per acre per annum.
Nyumba said to the crowd, “So now we have collected 10.28 billion from the premium and Shs468 million from the ground rent.”
During a meeting with MPs, they learned that Fakhruddin Properties Limited and EACOM International Limited still owe Shs516 million in premium and Shs25.8 million in ground rent.
Nyumba says that the expected total collections after the waivers are Shs11.493 billion.
Asuman Basalirwa, representing Bugiri Municipality, and Sheema Municipality MP Dickson Kateshumbwa, questioned how the beneficiaries got to know about the land and eventually got allocated. They also asked whether there was an advertisement for the land.
People responded, Prof. Nyeko Pen-Mogi said. The land was internally advertised and people responded. A group of MPs were not happy about this. They wondered how investors found out about the internal ad and whether the ULC did not follow the law or guidelines when selling public property.
Dan Atwijukire Kimosho, the Chairperson of the Committee, directed that the officials be put on oath to provide the committee with correct and consistent information.
Nyumba said that the ULC lacks an inventory of public land and that it is individuals who identify the land in different areas and request the commission for allocation.
Prof. Nyeko also noted that there are no gazetted guidelines on the allocation of land. He, however, indicated that the guidelines are still in draft. He also added that one of the provisions is to advertise the land in a public newspaper.
Basalirwa said that the statements from the ULC were shameful and showed that the country was not being served.
Kateshumbwa asked the officials to present the internal advertisement, identify the officials who authorised it, and count the number of people who responded to it.
However, Nyumba said that the February 20, 2021 minutes of the Commission don’t capture how many applicants were received.
Nyumba, who joined ULC in January 2022, also said that he did not get a copy of the internal advertisement on file.
“I cannot confirm or deny whether there was an advertisement. I have not seen that advertisement on file, “Nyumba said.”
But Prof Nyeko insisted that the Commission had agreed to advertise and did not know whether the advert had been made.
Kimosho wondered whether members of the ULC follow up on their decisions to ascertain implementation. Basalirwa also asked the commission to send the committee copies of the minutes from the meeting where the advertisement was agreed to as well.
Kimosho adjourned the hearing until Wednesday and told the ULC officials to bring all the documents about the land in question.
He also directed the committee clerk to write to the registrar of companies to obtain the names of directors and shareholders of the companies that were allocated land. He said they will be invited to the committee to explain how they learned about the land in question, which was not advertised.