By Taddeo Bwambale
KAMPALA - Law enforcement officers of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on Friday blocked construction of lock-up shops in the Old Taxi Park belonging to a city tycoon.
The tycoon, identified as Ahmad Zziwa, had defied a KCCA directive on Tuesday to demolish the structures within 28 days and stop construction along the periphery of the crowded taxi park.
Construction of the lock-ups had blocked access to the taxi park through the rear entrance on Ben Kiwanuka Street, sparking a protest from taxi operators who use the area.
The entrance was opened on Friday following the halting of construction work on the site. A group of persons with disabilities who are locked in a dispute with the developer camped at the site of construction in the morning, demanding that construction on the plot ceases.
KCCA spokesperson, Peter Kaujju said team of KCCA enforcement officers had been deployed at the park to ensure all construction work ceases.
He maintained that the buildings were illegal since no building plan was issued to the developer. The metallic hoarding reinforced with brick and cement structures was still in place.
The structures have been partitioned into small shops and open spaces, many of which have already been occupied by traders.
Photos by Peter Busomoke
Each the spaces costs between sh700,000 and sh1m in monthly rent, and there are over 80 such spaces. The developer had also built commercial public toilets, among other facilities.
The row over the new structures ignites controversy over the ownership of the Old Taxi Park. In 2005, the defunct Kampala City Council under Ssebana Kizito, the former Mayor, leased plots on the Old Taxi Park periphery to 11 private developers.
KCC had been forced to divide the Park into different plots to refund about sh1b to Translink, a company owned by an Asian businessman who planned to redevelop the park.
In 2009, following another row over ownership of the land, President Yoweri Museveni directed KCC to revoke the leases for the plots and re-allocate them to the sitting tenants.
The claimants were the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA), the Kampala Disabled Traders Association and the Old Taxi Park Non-Resident Tenants Association.
In 2011 when KCCA took over the city’s management, efforts to reclaim the taxi park were faced with violence and a protracted legal battle over their ownership.