COSASE ISSUES MORE SUMMONS OVER CONTROVERSIAL URC LAND SALE
By Joel Mugabi
Parliament’s Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) has issued more summons to more individuals to come and explain how they acquired acres of land that previously belonged to the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC).
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On Wednesday, officials of the Privatization Unit, which is under Matia Kasaija’s Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), appeared before Ssenyonyi’s Committee to answer queries related to the sale of URC land.
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Government was supposed to pay Uganda Railways Corporation Shs69.5bn for 57 acres of land in Nsambya and Kibuli given to investors who missed out on the Nakawa-Naguru land giveaway. The investors included: Janet Kobusingye the owner of Mestil Hotel, Charles Kimera, Islamic University, House of Dawda, CTM Uganda Limited, Access Uganda Limited, Yas Company, Alumus Properties, M/S Fairplay Services Ltd and Kampala International University.
Following Museveni’s directives, URC transferred the land to Uganda Land Commission (ULC) for Shs69.5bn. But a decade later, the money is yet to come, and gross mismanagement continues to be unearthed at the corporation.
Although the Privatization Unit facilitated the land sale, its boss Moses B Mwase told COSASE that MoFPED has failed to release the funds for the land sale despite several reminders from the unit to its mother ministry’s Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury to meet government’s obligations.
“We have written several requests and reminders on not one or two occasions to the Secretary to the Treasury; in fact, we have included this as an outstanding receivable so that this money can be passed on to Uganda Railways,” said Mwase.
Committee boss Ssenyonyi, also the Nakawa West MP, ordered Mwase to return to the committee with proof that the Privatization had written to the MoFPED PS but got no positive response.
“We want to get to the bottom of this; we must see the correspondence to prove that the Privatisation Unit has tried its best to secure this money for Uganda Railways; they still have challenges and cannot pay NSSF,” he said.
Ssenyonyi also issued summons for Mbarara City North MP Robert Mwesigwa to appear before COSASE and explain how he acquired four prime land pieces belonging to URC.The land in question is found in Port Bell and Mulago.
Also summoned is former spymaster Gen David Sejusa who the committee wants to explain how he acquired a property at Lake Drive, Port Bell. The Ssenyonyi-led Committee now seeks to probe if due process was followed in the sale of the land.
“The properties advertised were 10; however, the properties that were eventually sold were 15. What explains this? There was no public bidding for some of the properties,” said Ssenyonyi.
Mwase told the committee that government didn’t advertise the properties but rather gave sitting tenants a chance to acquire them. But more questions arose in response to this revelation. “Was this a fair exercise or did you act under duress? How can highly connected officers be the ones to take the properties,” said Yusuf Nsibambi (FDC, Mawokota South). (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org).