28 June 2012

Uganda: KCCA in Court Over Ntinda Market

Lawyers representing the conflicting parties in the battle for control of the land on which New Ntinda Market sits, are set to lock horns in court on July 4 when they make closing submissions.

On Tuesday, Justice Vincent Zehurikize set the date when the parties appeared before him at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala.

The case arose on February 14 last year when New Ntinda Market Owners' Cooperative Society, filed an application for a judicial protesting the revoking of its lease. The contested land is situated on Plot 185 -189 on Semawata Road in Ntinda.

The case is against Government's chief legal advisor Attorney General (AG), the Land Commission, commissioner of land registration, and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

The market owners want court to quash the Land Commission's decision to revoke their lease offer when the land was allocated to the defunct Kampala City Council (KCCA predecessor).

Isaac Mugerwa appeared as the lawyer for the market owners, Richard Rubaale represented KCCA, while the AG's representative Daniel Gantungo, also represented the commission and its land registration commissioner.

Judicial review is conducted by the High Court in relation to proceedings plus decisions taken by subordinate courts and inferior tribunals or bodies.

Construction of the market started in 1992 and was completed in 1996. It houses grocery shops, pubs, restaurants, fresh food stalls and a health club.

On Tuesday, the lawyers had been expected to clarify on their written submissions. But the judge said he could not proceed since he was yet to study the submissions in detail to enable him make an assessment to guide his verdict.

"I have to first read your (lawyers) written submissions before you can give highlights of the submissions," the judge said.

According to court documents, the market owners applied to the Land Commission for a lease and received an unconditional formal lease offer on November 2, 2009. The offer was, however, revoked on December 16 2010.

The society contends that it has suffered immense financial consequences as a result of the actions of those sued.

The market owners note that having occupied the land for 18 years, it cannot be allocated to any other entity without them being given first priority.

The Land commission has since absolved itself of any wrongdoing, saying the land title was rightfully revoked.

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