By Taddeo Bwambale and Juliet Waisswa
The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has embarked on a new drive to take over four other gazetted public parks around the city from city tycoons.
They include Wandegeya Children's Park which was taken over by war veterans; Sheraton Gardens; Constitutional Square and Kamwokya Children's Park.
The move to restore the green areas in city suburbs is part of KCCA's plan to restore the city's beauty and create areas where the public can relax.
KCCA took over Plot 34E-38E at Centenary Park along Jinja Road from Nalongo Estates Ltd, to pave way for restoration of the place into a public park.
KCCA's physical planning director said the Authority would visit the areas to ascertain ownership and pave way for restoration of the green spaces.
"KCC signed management agreements with several stakeholders to manage public open spaces. However, the managers deviated from the agreed plans and our legal team is looking at the agreements with a view of reviewing them," Semambo stated.
Nearly all the five public parks in the city were turned into lucrative commercial centres by some city tycoons, violating the agreements signed with the defunct Kampala City Council (KCC).
For instance, part of the land on which the Kamwokya Children's Park was located has since been turned into a fuel station.
KCCA recently wrote to the management of Sheraton Kampala Hotel to remove the rail fence around the gardens and allow the public access to the park.
The gardens were given to KCC by the Mehta family shortly before independence to serve as a public park. However, access to the gardens has been restricted and a monument of King George V, a prominent feature in the gardens no longer exists.
Efforts to get a comment from the General Manager of Sheraton were futile as he was reportedly out of the country. Semambo said KCCA was working with management of the hotel to allow free access to the gardens.
"Our legal team is seeking audience with Sheraton management to ensure that the authority is taking the right direction," he explained.
He disclosed that KCCA had initiated talks with the people charged to maintain the public parks to ensure that the public have access to the facilities.
"We want to see how the public can access them. If the managers fail, KCCA will reclaim them since we now have the capacity to maintain them," he said.
He also revealed that the plan by KCCA to reclaim Constitutional Square was pending clearance from the Government, since the area is guarded by the Police for security reasons.