Ahamada Washaki, Mbale Resident City Commissioner-RCC, has stopped the ongoing development at the fish hatchery land in Nkoma Ward in Mbale City Northern Division.
The more than 50 acres of land, which is opposite the main campus of Islamic University in Uganda along the Mbale-Soroti highway, belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries-MAAIF.
It used to be home to several pish ponds. The RCC intervened after Mbale city tycoon Moses Musooli started dumping murrum on the land, purportedly to pave the way for the construction of a construction and engineering factory with the connivance of Mbale city Northern City Division authorities.
According to George Wanakina, the Mbale District Production Officer, the wetland was initially under the Mbale district local government, which passed it on to the city authorities to put up fish ponds for demonstration purposes.
He, however, said that they were shocked when they saw the tycoon backfilling the wetland with murram with the intention of starting a factory. Addressing journalists at his office Tuesday, Washaki accused Northern City Division authorities of giving away government land.
He ordered Musooli to stop any developments on the land and seek a refund of his money from the Northern City Division authorities if he had paid for the land. However, Martine Busiku, the Northern City senior assistant town clerk, has denied knowledge of any ongoing development on the contested land, adding that he has already summoned Musoli in writing to his office to explain how he acquired the land.
Musoli says that he got clearance from Sarah Wazemwa, the assistant town clerk in charge of Mbale City’s Northern division, to develop the area. He also claimed that Wazemwa asked her to pay some money but didn’t specify the amount. Musooli has vowed to seek legal redress should he be stopped from going ahead with his planned development.
Wazemwa has denied getting any money from Musoli, saying that he only sought permission to build a road for easy access to the area, which she granted. She has tasked Musooli with producing documentary evidence implicating her for granting him permission to develop the fish hatchery land.