UGANDA, Kisenyi | Real Muloodi News | Last week, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago criticised the government for buying an acre of land in Kisenyi at USh37 billion /$10 million from John Bosco Muwonge, which rivals the unit cost of prime land in cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London.
According to the Lord Mayor of Kampala, Kisenyi land is about 10 acres, and, if each costs USh37 billion /$10 million, then it simply means 10 acres would go for USh370 billion/ $100 million which is outrageous.
200 acres in Stellenbosch, one of South Africa’s priciest neighbourhoods, are listed for $26 million (Shs97b), according to a Ugandan real estate agent operating there.
Ugandan real estate agents claim that the USh37 billion per acre unit cost is concerning for several different reasons.
They point to the lower asking prices for the same in the lush suburbs of Kololo and Nakasero.
“Kololo is the most prime land in the country. An acre goes for a maximum of $3 million,” one real estate dealer said, adding: “Even at that price, it is clearly over-priced, but it never goes beyond that price.”
The CEO of the Buganda Land Board, Mr Godfrey Kiweewa Maato, shrugged at the cost of an acre of land in Kisenyi.
“You cannot value that location at that amount. I do not have the right answer, but the value is too much. I am not conversant with the market value, but you look at how much other people are selling land in Kampala vis-a-vis the location,” he said.
The most costly land in Uganda, according to Dr Dan Twebaza, Chief Executive Officer of TWED Property Development, is located in Nakasero. There, he estimates that an acre would cost $1.5 million (USh5.6 billion) or $2 million (USh7.4 billion), while in Kololo, he estimates that an acre would cost somewhere between $1.3 million (USh4.8 billion) and $1.5 million (USh5.6 billion).
“For Kisenyi, I do not know the price because it is above my pay grade. I have never owned property in Kisenyi, but I know that property prices have been dropping gently due to the economy,” he said.
President of the Uganda Land Owners Association, Mr James Galabuzi, requested that the government always include the government land valuer in all land deals.
The land in Kisenyi has not been bought since it is private land, according to Mr Simon Kasyate, the Director of Communications at KCCA, when asked if they still saw value in purchasing it at that price.
“You know that this is a free market economy. You and I know the price of land. KCCA hasn’t acquired the land,” he said.
The Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Ms Minsa Kabanda, said that the government had not yet purchased the property but added that they had written to the government valuer to determine the property’s exact value.
“The executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority told us about the amount that the owner of the land wanted at first, but it was a lot of money,” she said.
“I don’t remember the amount but I think it ranged between Shs100 billion to Shs300 billion. I can’t estimate the value of that land, but I want a reasonable price,” Ms Kabanda added.
An acre of land costs USh1 billion for commercial use in the area, while it costs USh400 million for residential usage, according to Mr Sam Ssebuliba, a real estate agent headquartered in Bweyogerere. He said that the Namanve Industrial Park is the reason the prices are high.
A residential plot will cost between USh500 million and USh800 million in Kireka, he continued, while an acre for commercial purposes will cost between USh800 million and USh15 billion.
Areas near Namugongo, according to Mr Ssebuliba, are less expensive and cost between USh80 million and USh150 million.
He continues that areas like Kyanja are a little overpriced, with half an acre going for USh500 million.
According to him, the existence of Somalis and Eritreans in Kisenyi may be the cause of the acre’s high unit cost in millions of dollars.
When asked if an acre of land costs USh37 billion in Kampala, Mr Dennis Obbo, the Communications Officer for the Lands Ministry, responded that the opinion of the government’s chief valuer would be illuminating.
“It is not difficult to get the values,” he said, adding: “They are reached at scientifically and if they need this information, we shall avail them.”
What Some Kampala City Officials Had to Say
Erias Lukwago, Kampala Lord Mayor: “It is dubious that the central government has earmarked $100 million to purchase 10 acres of land from a one Bosco Muwonge, ostensibly to resettle street vendors. How can an acre of land in the shoddy Kisenyi be purchased at $10 million (Shs37b)? This is obscene. This is another cash bonanza for the cartel and mafia. We passed a resolution that instead of buying Mr Muwonge’s land, let the exorbitant amount be channelled to KCCA for constructing markets in the five divisions. This was blackmailed because it irked the cartel.”
Dorothy Kisaka, KCCA Executive Director: “KCCA intends to acquire land and establish two markets in every division. We currently have 16 government markets. The land in Kisenyi is on short-term renewable lease. We have not purchased it. The land belongs to an individual. KCCA aims at establishing trading spaces in the city to decongest the streets of hawkers and those who sell their merchandise on the veranda. We are doing all this under the smart city arrangement. We want to see a clean and organised city. Another alternative site is Kalerwe and is currently being graded for use by those who needed trading spaces. All hawkers who need trading space downtown Kampala should go to Smart City Bazaar in Kisenyi.”
Yusuf Nsibambi, the Former Chairman of Kampala District Land Board: “I was lucky to serve the Kampala Land Board and what is blinding us in Buganda is that in Buganda we are clapping that land has gained value and yet it is being taken. The land sold in Kampala measuring 50m by 100m at Shs1 billion is not anywhere in the world.
The price of land in Uganda is more expensive than land in New York or London. This is taxpayers’ money given to individuals to displace land owners in Kampala.”
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