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Ruling in Muhangi, Lubega property row deferred twice

By Michael Odeng

Added 9th April 2019 06:59 PM

The land in question is valued at about $30m (about sh112.2b)

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Police patrols Qualicel and Nabukeera plazas after the premises were closed earlier this month. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba

The land in question is valued at about $30m (about sh112.2b)

The Land Court assistant registrar, Justine Atukwasa has for the second time deferred the ruling on whether city tycoon Drake Lubega should not carry out developments in the contested land at Qualicel Arcade.

On Tuesday morning when the case came up for ruling, the Assistant registrar informed court that the ruling was not ready due to circumstances beyond her control.

“The ruling is not ready due to circumstances beyond my control and therefore the case is adjourned to Thursday,” she ruled.

Lionel Muhangi, one of the directors of Horizon Coaches Limited and son of the former rally driver, the late Charles Muhangi filed an application seeking to block Lubega from carrying out developments in the contested land, pending determination of the main case.

In the main suit filed in 2013, Muhangi through Horizon Coaches Limited is seeking for the recovery of the disputed land comprised on plots 48-52, formerly 43-47 Nakivubo Road. The land in question is valued at about $30m (about sh112.2b).

Muhangi says he is the rightful owner of the 0.518 hectares of the land on which Qualicel Bus Terminal, Qualicel building and Nabukera Plaza sit since 2002, but the two tycoons forcefully occupied and developed it leading to a 13-year battle in court.

However, city tycoons Mansur Matovu, alias Young, and Drake Lubega insist that they legally own the land on which they have had developments.

Lubega embarked on the construction of a modern commercial arcade in the contested Qualicel Bus Terminal in the city centre, days after the police evicted his rival’s group and reinstated him and his business colleague, Mansoor Matovu alias Young.

Background

Buganda Bus Park was established in the 1960s as a bus parking yard for upcountry travels within Buganda. However, it later accommodated all buses travelling to upcountry locations.

ionel uhangi right the son of businessman harles uhangi leaves igh ourt with his lawyer nthony agira hoto by ennedy ryemaLionel Muhangi (right) the son of businessman Charles Muhangi leaves High Court with his lawyer Anthony Bagira. Photo by Kennedy Oryema

 

The fight between three city tycoons over ownership of buildings at Qualicel in Kampala stems back to 1993, after the late Muhangi and his colleagues paid sh1 billion to the then Kampala City Council to manage the bus park.

It is purported that in 2004, city tycoons Lubega, Fredrick Lubega, John Ssebalamu, John Bosco Muwonge and Christine Nalubega allegedly bought the land from Uganda Bus Operators Association (UBOA) Investments, where Muhangi was the biggest shareholder with 240 shares.

The park was managed by UBOA under a consortium of nine companies, including Lowi Roadways Ltd, Long Freighters Ltd, Kyn and Reyne Investments Ltd, Horizon Coaches Ltd, Kabonesa Investments Ltd, Traveler’s Choice Ltd, Hajji Asuman Jjunju and Sons Limited, and Global Technical Works Ltd, with each having varying shareholding.

It is said Lubega sold part of his plot to Matovu and they jointly built Qualicel Bus Terminal Shopping Centre, Qualicel Bus Terminal and Nabukeera Arcade at the former Buganda Bus Park land.

Who owns the land?

In April 2015, the Constitutional Court ordered Lubega to restore the status quo that existed before the dispute. The court ruled the eviction of Horizon Coaches Limited, owned by Muhangi in March 2014 was unlawful.

The Supreme Court also dismissed Lubega’s appeal, challenging the Constitutional Court order for him to vacate the bus parkland.

Documents indicate that in July 2017, Muhangi and Lubega reached an amicable agreement, maintaining that Muhangi temporarily possesses the land until the main case is concluded.  

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