A row is raging currently between the two ministers of land, Judith Nabakooba and her junior, Dr Sam Mayanja. This beef stems from the fresh scramble for the big chunk of land that formerly held what used to be known as the Nakawa-Naguru Estates.
A letter Dr Mayanja wrote to the President asking him to allocate part of the land to a number of investors kicked off the bad blood between him and his colleague. Nabakooba in her capacity as the top land’s minister is thought to be opposing what Mayanja proposes.
But Mayanja, being Museveni’s blue-eyed minister, is believed to be exploiting that leverage to fight off Nabakooba’s resistance towards what he wants the president to do. That was, but the preamble. We now go on to tell the genesis of the scramble for the Nakawa, Naguru Housing estates and how we have reached here.
Towards the advent of the year 2000, Mafias had grabbed public land that used to hold schools and institutions of higher learning, railways, police and military barracks, green belts and most of the swamps, among others, around town.
They were accordingly now looking around for more land to snap up. That is how the prime chunk of land that was holding Naguru and Nakawa housing flats ended up becoming their next target.
Sometime in 1994, Kampala City Council had condemned the flats as unsuitable for human occupation. This would serve as a very good excuse for the Mafias and their godfathers in government to finally knock down the flats built in 1955.
Having discovered the fact that the housing estates had been condemned, the Mafias inside and outside government now plotted how to convince the president to surrender the land to private investors. Convincing the president in this regard was pretty easy. For one, KCC (as it was then) had condemned the flats already but they had remained standing for years.
Given that the president has a soft spot for investors, the Mafias knew he wouldn’t hesitate to have the flats flattened on being informed some wealthy individuals wanted to use the land for development. So, the Mafias went shopping for investors from abroad. They found one in North London. His company was known as OPEC.
They found another one in Prince Aga Khan. Aga Khan was too apportioned land to build an high-end healthy facility. The project has never taken off years later. Insiders say Aga Khan is demanding for more land. But the administration has been unwilling to give more land to the filthy-rich Prince.
To make the land bonanza appealing to the public, government gave some land to the Islamic University in Uganda but which the institution of learning has never utilized to date. Moving fast on, the mafias in government quickly arranged a meeting in East London for the president to have a close chat with the purported OPEC investors.
They also looked around for some Ugandan gentlemen and presented them to the president as the local associates and contacts of the owners of OPEC. This is how the son of Kaguta ended up making the useless trip to East London for purposes of meeting the supposed `investors.`
Upon hitting East London, his hosts took Museveni around town while showing him fabulous housing estates. They claimed to have erected those high-end housing estates themselves.
These people were doing all this on purpose. They wanted the president to get thoroughly convinced that they possess the kind of money and expertise needed to pull off what they referred to as satellite cities. Museveni was amazed by what he saw and the rosy stories his hosts fed him on.
The elated president left for Kampala having assured his investors that Nakawa and Naguru land was available for them to construct their so-called satellite city. Museveni started on the process of ensuring the eviction of more than 5000 tenants at the two housing estates to pave way for his `investors.`
The eviction would finally arrive when Museveni’s hitherto blue-eyed KCCA Executive Director, Jennifer Kiwanuka Musisi took charge at City Hall. The disturbing eviction was overseen by a combined force of the mean-looking military police, army, plus regular police officers. They were armed to the tooth.
Wails of tenants being forced out in the wee hours of the morning rocked the two housing estates as bulldozers mercilessly flattened the flats. Security would mercilessly whip the tenants who were resisting the eviction and those who were trying to save their properties from being destroyed. The tenants who were smart enough took the meagre compensation government was throwing at them and moved on.
Their counterparts unable to discern these peanuts chose to hold on. They refused to take the compensation. They hoped to purchase the finished condominium flats and make a kill leasing them out. After all, the people of OPEC had promised to sell out the flats at subsidized price.
The poor souls are now regretting after waiting for ten years and still counting, without the damn satellite city materializing. In any case, government has since repossessed the land. Dr Mayanja and some big wigs in government are understood to be presiding over another round of land bonanza while Nabakooba is reported to be desperately raising the red flag.
We can hazard a guess. Nabakooba has bolted the door a little after the mafias pulled off the sweet escape.What is abundantly clear is that the mafias are unstoppable in their pursuit of public land. Nabakooba is fighting a losing battle. The mafias grabbed Nakawa and Naguru land long ago.
This stance, just like they grabbed UTV land in Upper Nakasero, Shimoni Demonstration School land right in the city center, Agoa land in Bugoloobi and the Nsambya police barracks land to mention but a few.Disturbingly, the mafias are not about to stop. They are determined to grab and finish off public land under the guise of surrendering it to investors. Watch this space for Museveni’s tough letter ordering OPEC out of Nakawa and Naguru Housing Estate…
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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