19 May 2017

Uganda: Musisi Declines to Renew Centenary Park Lease

Photo: The Observer
Part of Centenary park.

Jennifer Musisi, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, has rejected recommendations to renew the Centenary park lease, which expired in May last year.

The recommendation is contained in a report prepared by KCCA's committee on physical planning and legal affairs chaired by Bruhan Byaruhanga. In 2006, Kampala City Council, the predecessor of KCCA, leased plot 34E-38E Jinja road measuring 3.13 hectares for 10 years to M/S Nalongo Estates Ltd to develop, utilise and maintain Centenary park as a recreational park and bridal garden.

In May 2011, Kampala district contracts committee further awarded a five-year sub-lease for plot 5 to Park Links and plot 96A-100A along Yusuf Lule road to M/S Nalongo Estates Ltd. These plots make up Centenary park.

However, as lease expiry drew closer, M/S Nalongo Estates Ltd wrote to KCCA requesting for a renewal in vain. In September last year, Sarah Kizito, the managing director of Nalongo Estates, petitioned Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago 'seeking his indulgence so that KCCA extends the leases for the land on which Centenary park is located.

On his part, Lukwago tasked the physical planning and legal affairs committee to handle the matter. The committee tabled its findings yesterday morning before the city council meeting at Imperial Golf View hotel in Entebbe.

"The recommendation proposing sub-leasing of plot 34E-38E to Nalongo estates should be operationalised by the authority and a transfer process commenced... KCCA should take responsibility for the delayed response to Nalongo estates' submissions (lease applications) which led to expiration of leases and management contracts before any action was taken. It is only fair that the renewal of the expired sub lease for plots 96A-100A and 5 Park Link should be fast-tracked," the report reads in part.

However, Musisi rejected the recommendation, saying the Centenary park land will be used for public projects, including the proposed Jinja road-Kitgum house flyover. She also informed the council that government has already entered an agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the proposed construction of the flyover.

She also disclosed that the Japanese government only accepted to commit money after receiving clearance from Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) that the land would be availed without compensation, adding that Unra directed KCCA not to lease the land.

However, Byaruhanga contested Musisi's explanation: "It's irregular for a government agency (Unra) to instruct another government agency (KCCA) on how to conduct its business. Therefore, Unra writing to KCCA directing that the lease for Nalongo estates should not be extended appears to be usurping the roles and power of KCCA."

The other part of Centenary park land, Musisi said, is also being affected by two government projects including the Umeme electricity sub-power station, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) water project.

"Because we are the owners of the park, we have already committed a big chunk of that part to Umeme, NWSC and JICA projects," she said. Musisi told the council she will meet Nalongo Estates Ltd on Friday [today] to officially inform them of the projects, which will consume the land.

She also said President Museveni chaired meetings to discuss the fate of Centenary park, and directed that government projects should take precedence over all other issues.

Both the political and technical wing agreed to give Nalongo estates first priority for lease extention if some of the land remains.

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