UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Uganda has lost a USh56 billion grant from India to build an international convention centre. The offer was made on 25th July 2018 by Mr Shri Narenda Modi, the Prime Minister of India, while on his two-day visit to Uganda.
During his speech, India’s Prime Minister made the offer to parliament where he revealed that the proposed USD15 million convention centre would be constructed near the source of the Nile in Jinja city.
The convention centre was also to be named after Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian nationalist and leader of the movement toward India’s independence.
The officials at India’s High Commission in Kampala refused to comment on the withdrawal of the offer.
However, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Tom Butime, blamed the withdrawal on an existing land problem.
“We did not handle the matter as fast as should have because of a land problem,” Minister Butime said.
The withdrawal of the offer also happened not long after the Minister for Finance, Matia Kasaija, had disclosed that the government of Uganda does not have money to construct a convention centre. This is so especially as it prepares to host the Non-Aligned Movement officials next year.
Doreen Katusiime, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, revealed that Jinja City Council authorities failed to provide land to the government to implement the construction of the convention centre.
“Jinja city was supposed to provide land near the Source of the Nile because they wanted it around the Source of the Nile close to the monument of Mahatma Ghandi, but Jinja has not been able to find land,” Katusiime said.
It has also been disclosed that a site for the proposed project that had been submitted by the Jinja authorities had been rejected.
After Modi’s state visit, Durga Dass, the second secretary who also doubled as the cultural attaché at India’s High Commission visited Jinja for an onsite inspection.
However, Mohan Kumarg, the general manager responsible for overseas operations at the National Buildings Construction Corporation, a construction firm owned by the Government of India, responded to the Jinja authorities that the land that had been submitted was inadequate and unsuitable for the project.
The National Buildings Construction Corporation was the firm supposed to implement the project.
Durga Dass said that the efforts of Jinja authorities to persuade the construction firm to start the project on the offered land were in vain.
“They (NBCC) have replied that this would not be possible in the interest of the project. In view of this, unless Jinja Municipal Council allows parcel H to be used for the construction of the Mahatma Ghandi Convention and Heritage Centre and Museum, or identifies another suitable stretch, it will not be possible to proceed with the project,” Durg Dass responded in writing.
The land that had been submitted by Muhammad Baswari Kezaala, who served in New Delhi as the Deputy Ambassador had also been leased to an investor, Magan Patel of Nile Agro industries.
However, Patel refused to place his offer for compensation for the land, which frustrated the implementation of the project.
However, Minister Butime has promised that the idea of developing a convention centre is not lost and the government shall eventually implement it.
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