Jinja — A Shs3.2b three-storey building in Jinja Town owned by National Social Security Fund (NSSF), has remained empty with prospective occupants staying away, citing high costs of rent.
The structure dubbed Jinja City House, which was on June 28, 2018, officially opened by the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, has remained devoid of occupants for the past 10 months.
Daily Monitor has learnt the entire building has got a total built-up space of 1,500 square metres, including a mixed use development setup to cater for commercial facilities, office space and retail shops.
It has also emerged that each square metre goes for $17 (Shs62, 985) monthly, inclusive of a service charge of $5 (Shs18, 525), bringing the total monthly cost of renting the building to about Shs95m.
The Fund has been making losses despite an aggressive advertising campaign to get tenants on board.
The NSSF Managing Director, Mr Richard Byarugaba, on Wednesday said the Fund has laboured to advertise but it has taken time to get 'good quality tenants'.
"We (NSSF) have so far occupied the ground floor and are also paying rent, but we have also secured a tenant who will occupy the restaurant space and two government entities which are ready to occupy some rooms on the upper floor before this year ends," he said.
Although Jinja is one of the nine municipalities that are poised to be elevated by government to a city status on July 1 in a bid to promote regional development, the standard of living remains low.
The NSSF building is one of the most beautiful structures in Jinja that are changing the face of the municipality.
Mr Isaac Isabirye, a businessman, said most buildings are usually occupied before they are completed but because of high rental rates, the NSSF structure is being shunned.
"This is Jinja! they should not think that we are in Kampala. Very few people can afford to pay that amount of money. May be let them wait until Jinja is turned into a city," Mr Isabirye said.
Ms Stella Nairuba, a businesswoman, said if they can accept to partition the rooms, it will make it affordable. "We are used to paying rent of between Shs300, 000 to Shs1.5m.
"The building is too expensive compared to the average standard in Jinja and it is located outside town and not in the business centre," she said.
NSSF is a quasi-government agency responsible for the collection, safekeeping, responsible investment and distribution of retirement funds from employees of the private sector in Uganda who are not covered by the Government Retirement Scheme.
The Speaker Jinja Municipal Council, Mr Moses Bizitu, on Wednesday said they have also lost money they would have got from the tenants occupying the NSSF building in terms of trading licences.
"NSSF should revise its rates so that people can occupy the building and the council benefits in terms of trading licences.
"Many lawyers would have secured some rooms but they cannot afford the rates asked by NSSF," Mr Bizitu said.