UGANDA, Masaka | Real Muloodi News | Private developers have continued with their construction projects on their acquired prime plots of land in two green belts in Masaka City despite authorities halting the projects on February 20.
The city’s finance committee had halted the beautification of the green belt opposite Masaka High Court premises and another one along Broadway Road adjacent to Brovad Hotel.
However, the developers, Mr Darausi Wamala and Mr Moses Kaliisa, alias Muto have continued with their construction projects in the green belts.
The finance committee also asked how the developers acquired land in the green belts.
Authorities Urge Intervention: Legal Action Needed
Mr Rogers Buregeya, the chairperson of the city finance committee, has notified the developers and urged the Police, the Inspectorate of Government, and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) to intervene.
He has also summoned all people who are occupying council properties illegally or questionable properties to appear before the committee.
“We summoned all people who are occupying council properties illegally or questionable properties to appear before the committee on Thursday 9th March 2023 as we waited for the three entities above to investigate the errant developers,” Mr Buregeya said.
The Mayor of Nyendo –Mukungwe Municipality, Mr Mulindwa Nakkumussana, has said that the developers have proved to be hostile and need to be handled by ‘higher offices’ in Uganda.
“I am really wondering why these businessmen are behaving as if they are above the law. Take the example of Mr Kaliisa, the machinery he is using to excavate the site can easily damage the new road where the government put billions of shillings, but he has defiantly continued with construction works,” Mr Mulindwa said.
The city finance committee is investigating more than 150 properties belonging to Masaka City Council and how they ended up in the hands of private developers.
Mr Fred Busulwa, a member of the city finance committee, has said that the committee is weeding out illegal projects, not frustrating development in the city.
“The committee is investigating more than 150 properties belonging to Masaka City Council and how they ended up in the hands of private developers. It is better they (developers) cooperate and provide the information we need to inform our investigations,” he said.
He has urged developers to cooperate and provide the information needed during investigations.
Mr Wamala has said that he had not received any formal notification from the council halting his project.
During a field visit to the two sites last week, the National Building Review Board (NBRB) Executive Secretary, Ms Flavia Guto Bwire, said Mr Kaliisa can continue with the project provided he erects a strong retaining wall to protect the newly constructed Broadway Road from cracking.
But she ordered Mr Wamala to resubmit his building plan to the Masaka City Building Control office for review and scrutiny after deviating from the original approved plan.
Developer Defends Deviation
Mr Wamala has defended his deviation from the approved plan, stating that the poor terrain of the site necessitated the change.
He has said that the terrain of the site could not allow him to redevelop his plot without erecting permanent structures.
He is putting up a restaurant, something which is acceptable by law to be established in such a place (green belt).
He defended himself saying, “The terrain of the site could not allow me to redevelop my plot without erecting permanent structures. We are putting up a restaurant, something which is acceptable by law to be established in such a place (green belt).”
Criticism of Masaka Authorities over Misuse of Funds
Authorities in Masaka have over the years been criticised for illegal parcelling out of public land and open spaces to private developers.
Some of the properties sold off include the Mayor’s Garden, Children’s Park, Town Clerk’s residence, Old Kkumbu Estate, and a public cemetery.
In 2020, sources within Masaka Municipal Council indicated that the developer, Mr Kaliisa alias Muto, gave municipal officials USh1.5 billion in exchange for the Mayor’s Garden.
The then Masaka Town Clerk, Mr John Behangane, said the Mayor’s Garden was sold off to raise money to construct a new Masaka Town Council Hall after the old one was bombed during the 1979 liberation war.
Council members accused Mr Behangane and the former Masaka mayor, Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo, of misusing money after selling the Mayor’s Garden in January 2020.
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