• Aug 21, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • Mbarara Industrial Park land title returned

Anite with members of UIA and Gatsbay during the tour of the industrial park. Photo by Adolf Ayoreka
Adolf Ayoreka
Journalist @New Vision

The Government, through the Ministry of Investment and Industrialisation, has returned the Mbarara Industrial Park land title to the Uganda Gatsbay, a group of small-scale and medium enterprise owners and manufacturers in Mbarara, following President Yoweri Museveni’s directive.

The handover was led by Evelyne Anite, the state minister for investment and industrialisation, David Bahati, the state minister for trade, and Victoria Businge Rusoke, the state minister for local government, at Makenke cell, Kakika, Mbarara City North, off Mbarara-Masaka road on Tuesday (August 17).

Mbarara Industrial Park

In 1998, Mbarara businessmen, mainly engaged in the manufacturing and production sectors, pooled resources and bought 12 acres at sh77m, with a target of establishing an industrial park.

However, when they started construction, they lacked funds, so they acquired a sh2.16b loan from the East African Development Bank, hoping that after construction, they will be able to raise money to service the loan, which was not the case.

The Government, through the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), stepped in and cleared the loan on behalf of Uganda Gatsbay, before they took over ownership of the land.

It was revealed that around 2007, UIA allegedly took over the premises and chased away all the small-scale manufacturers dealing in shoemaking, tailoring and knitting, who had started to operate from the structures.

Local manufacturers later petitioned the Office of the President and Gen. Salim Saleh to have the matter solved amicably.

In January 2016, President Museveni ordered Maggie Kigozi, the then executive director UIA, to give a lengthy period to Uganda Gatsby to pay back the money.

For the last 14 years, Uganda Gatsbay has been pulling strings with UIA over the ownership of Mbarara Industrial Park land.

On Tuesday, while delivering the land title, Anite appreciated the fact that the issues of Uganda Gatsbay and UIA had stalled, until the President ordered that small manufacturers in Mbarara be given their land title.

“The President ordered the ministry to give back the land title to you. He also directed us to support you with funds” Anite said.

She told the manufacturers that Museveni directed her ministry to give the manufacturers a sh200b loan through a bank so that small and medium enterprises can access it at a low interest rate to rejuvenate their businesses.

Fate of UIA tenants

It was revealed that the Uganda Investment Authority had about 26 tenants who have been paying rent and are worried about being chased away from the premises.

“I am into beverages and I have been paying sh3m per month to UIA. We do not know our fate yet,” one of the manufacturers told the ministers.

In response, Anite, assured that there will be a well-planned transition.

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