By Samuel Sanya
THE Justice Catherine Bamugemereire commission of inquiry into the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has unearthed further rot after it emerged that a brick layer was paid sh4.1b as part of a sh20b bogus compensation scheme.
On Monday, the inquiry was astounded at how Kamoga Mohammed, a brick layer, farmer and land broker and two associates; Mugumya Hussein and Richard Sempagala were paid sh4.1b for land in a forest reserve along the 53km Entebbe-Kampala expressway project.
A further 43 individuals received close to sh20b for land in Lubijji swamp in Busega, a city suburb and the government owned Kajjansi Forest Reserve. The inquiry also heard that a further sh6b had been planned for land owners in the Nambigirwa/Mpala swamp.
Earlier, the inquiry heard how Excellent Assorted Manufacturers which belongs to Ephraim Ntaganda, a city tycoon acquired a freehold title for 148 acres in Lubijji wetland 20 days after government had received a title for the same land to construct the expressway.
The company was compensated sh18b for 2.5 acres of land that were to be affected by the $476m (sh1.6 trillion) expressway. This brings the total money swindled in bogus compensations to sh38b. The inquiry is yet to ascertain how much was lost in compensations for land in two more forest reserves within the Entebbe-Kampala expressway strip map.
The amount swindled so far is nearly twice the 2015/16 budget for the Skilling Uganda project, funds for the teachers SACCO, the student loan scheme, the National High Altitude Center in Kapchwora and the Akii-Bua Olympic Stadium in Lira combined.
Prosecutors Andrew Kasirye and Mary Kutesa tasked Ahmed Ddamulira, a lands ministry official and Wakiso local government registrar of titles to explain how titles where issued in a forest reserve and a public wetland.
Also tasked to explain his role in the hefty compensations was Samuel Lutwama, a brick layer and LC 1 representative of Nakigalala village along the Kampala-Entebbe highway where many of the beneficiaries claim to have been residents.
On his part, Lutwama said he received sh50,000 from surveyors who later confused him into signing valuation documents. Ddamulira, who is an advisor to the Wakiso Land Board and a trainer on land rights, said he was not aware that the titles he issued were in a forest reserve.
“The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has a duty to ensure that areas with forest reserves are surveyed and that trees are maintained in the area,” Ddamulira said when asked by commissioner, Abraham Nkata whether he was remorseful.
The inquiry continues.
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UNRA probe: brick layer was paid sh4.1b