New Vision (Kampala)

18 February 2013

Uganda: Lukwago Implicated in Sh3 Billion City Abattoir Fraud

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has been accused together with 17 others of illegally collecting over sh3.8b from the city abattoir and disobeying a court order.

Lukwago and his group have allegedly been collecting the money from October 2011 and by December 2012 when the Resident City Commissioner, Mpimbaza Hashaka intervened, they were believed to have collected over sh3.3b.

"The interim order is against a group of 18 people led by Lukwago who are allegedly illegally collecting over sh8m from the city abattoir on a daily basis. There is no accountability for all monies collected since October 19, 2011," Hashaka revealed in a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura.

He added that Lukwago's group was allegedly not paying taxes to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Uganda Revenue Authority, besides running down the abattoir and threatening to chase away traders who question them on accountability and management issues.

Hashaka's letter dated December 13, 2012, a copy of which New Vision has seen, was seeking Kayihura's intervention to ensure that the interim order be implemented. Today, traders said the group was still collecting the money and if the amount said to be collected daily is to go by, they have so far collected sh3.8b.

Hashaka's letter followed a complaint by one Dan Kwatampora Katarihwa who approached Hashaka claiming that he (Katarihwa) had acquired an interim order stopping Lukwago and his group from interfering with the abattoir, but the interim order was not implemented.

Besides Lukwago, the 17 other people listed on the court order are; Abbey Mugumba, Medi Nsubuga, Medi Kisitu, W. Mutesasira, Edward Wamala, Sheik Ngoobi and Kasimu Katerega. Others are; Debula Matovu, Hakimu Kabuga, Kulabigwo, Francis Semugera, Musoke, Sekitti, Jjuko, Ali alias Figo, Mukisa and Charles Naluswa.

New Vision has seen a copy of the interim order from the high court's land division restraining Lukwago and 17 others from interfering with the physical possession, control, management and administration of the abattoir located on plot 1 and 3 along Old Port bell road.

Katarihwa through his lawyer Geoffrey Nangumya secured the order allowing him to continue managing the abattoir until a pending suit on the sublease of the property is disposed of.

City abattoir traders are entangled in court battle with city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba with each party fighting to secure authority to run the abattoir. The lease to run the abattoir has on several occasions turned chaotic with the traders resisting eviction by Basajjabalaba, and Police has always intervened to avert bloodshed. Jinja Road police chief Wesley Nganizi said business was going on normally at the abattoir, adding that; "for us (Police) we only come in to avoid bloodshed. But I believe Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is working on that issue."

But Paul Mutsinzi, one of the traders' representatives said Lukwago and his group were still mistreating them. He said they recently lifted the interim order and continued collecting the money. "We are trying to secure another one because we believe the fees they are collecting are illegal. They collect sh10,000 per cow and sh2500 per goat brought into the abattoir.

This is in addition to money they collect from other vendors operating around the abattoir premises," he revealed.

Mutsinzi and his group have also petitioned the minister for Presidency and Kampala affairs, Frank Tumwebaze, seeking his intervention.

When contacted, Tumwebaze said he had received verbal communication from the traders about the matter but the formal written petition had not yet reached his desk. "The traders called me and said they were sending a petition although I have not yet received it. I will act when I get it."

The latest development implicating Lukwago comes in the wake of reports that the Inspector General of Government (IGG) is probing the Mayor following a formal complaint that he obtained money and other material benefits from a Chinese company, Foton East Africa Ltd, suppliers of buses, garbage trucks and lorries.

This complaint by the Chinese company claims that Lukwago's political assistants and confidantes obtained large sums of money in return for his authorization of the construction of a motor vehicle showroom.

Sources told New Vision that the Chinese company facilitated Lukwago to travel to China where he assured the management that as Mayor he was going to exercise his authority to ensure the procurement of 100 garbage trucks and 300 buses to be used for public transport in Kampala.

The facilitation for the China trip included air tickets, lavish hotel accommodation and generous spending allowances to a big delegation of Lukwago's political and business associates, including deputy Mayor Sulaiman Kidandala, Councilor Allan Sewanyana and Sarah Kanyike (Lukwago's political assistant).

The Inspectorate of Government acknowledged receipt of the complaint and said investigations into the allegations had started.

Attempts to get a comment from Lukwago were futile after he chased away Vision Group journalists from a press conference on Wednesday, saying the company was against him.

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