23 May 2006

Uganda: KCC Gives Up Tree Nursery

Kampala — KAMPALA City Council (KCC) has allocated its tree nursery bed on Plot M7 Port Bell Road to three developers to set up warehouses and a showroom.

Since the 1950s, the nursery has been a source of KCC plant material, including trees, grasses and shrubs planted in various city gardens and parks.

The land, measuring 1.436ha (3.50 acres) was leased for 49 years to Kiwawu Enterprises Ltd, Echo Pharmacy and J.B.M International Ltd. KCC has not found a place to relocate its tree nursery.

Kiwawu Enterprise, a local construction and transportation company, was given the largest part of the plot, measuring about two acres. It intends to put up warehouses for agricultural products. A letter from town clerk James sseggane to acting principal valuer Paul Mungati showed that the plot was valued at a fair market value of sh200m.

The company's director, Edward Lwanga, in his application of November 28, 2003 for acquisition of the plot, said the project would cost US$3m (sh5.4b) and create 400 jobs.

According to the company profile, Kiwawu is run by three directors: Lwanga, Dr. James Ssemwanga and Eng. Richard Kizimula.

The other developer, Echo Pharmacy, was allocated 0.405 hectares.

In its minutes of September 28, 2004, the council approved the allocation of one acre to J.B.M International Ltd to construct a showroom. Sources said the premises are located in a wetland and house sewer lines. They said the developer had also encroached on the railway reserve.

The area which looks like a small forest, comprises of a number of mature trees.

"Some big trees had labels which showed that they were planted in 1952," said Fred Kaluganda, a florist who has worked at the premises since 1992.

Sources said KCC stopped carrying out serious work a year ago and that the few causal workers left behind stopped working two months ago. kaluganda, however, said KCC continued to collect manure and trees.

Over 20 people who have been running private nurseries on the land are going to be affected by the changes. They said they had not received any notices to vacate.

Sources said multiplex, the firm managing street parking, has been frequenting the area and on Saturday last week erected fencing poles.

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