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Uganda loses prime plot of land in Addis Ababa

By Moses Walubiri

Added 1st May 2019 03:39 PM

The prime plot that had been given to Uganda gratis to build a chancery building “was reallocated to a third party.”

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Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, the Permanent Secretary ministry of foreign affairs. Photo/File

The prime plot that had been given to Uganda gratis to build a chancery building “was reallocated to a third party.”

DEVELOPMENT

KAMPALA - After years of dillydallying regarding the development of its property abroad, it has emerged that Uganda has lost a prime plot of land in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

A report by the foreign affairs committee of Parliament to the House indicates that the prime plot that had been given to Uganda gratis to build a chancery building “was reallocated to a third party.”

To limit the damage, the committee has made a case for the Government to allocate sh80b in the next financial year to help secure Uganda’s undeveloped prime plots in different capitals in foreign countries.

Among the countries where Uganda has land that is either undeveloped or in the process of developing include Belgium, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Burundi.

 “The local authorities had promised an alternative piece of land which hasn't been allocated yet. The Committee's view is to turn the residence into a chancery with some apartments for the staff,” the report reads in part.

The lawmakers want the Government to pursue the issue of the land in Addis Ababa with authorities in Ethiopia to have it allocated another piece of land to replace one they contend was “lost in unclear circumstances.”

When Alex Byarugaba (Isingiro South) was still chairperson of the foreign affairs committee, the House had exhorted the Government to expeditiously develop Uganda’s prime plots abroad after reports emerged that the country was running the risk of losing them if they remained undeveloped.

At the time, one of the plots of land that were at the risk of being repossessed by authorities included land in Abuja, Nigeria which has since been developed.

However, Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, the Permanent Secretary ministry of foreign affairs pushed back against insinuation that the land in Addis Ababa had been lost because of failure to develop it.

“Government allocated funds to develop the land in Addis Ababa but at the time, a third party had encroached upon it. We could not proceed with the construction otherwise everything was in place,” Mugoya told New Vision.

Mugoya also allayed fears of Uganda running the risk of losing land in Burundi saying construction on the prime plot in Bujumbura is near completion.

Over the years, the Auditor General, John Muwanga in his annual reports has painted a grim picture of Uganda’s missions and properties abroad falling into disrepair and running the risk of being declared unfit for human habitation.

While meeting lawmakers on the foreign affairs committee last year, minister of foreign affairs, Sam Kutesa revealed that a number of mission buildings had been given a facelift which he said would be done in phases on account of financial constraints.

To reduce the colossal sums the country is expending on renting in countries where it has been allocated land, Parliament has always made a case for this land to be developed with the aim of serving a dual purpose of raking in some Non Tax Revenue through renting out space and saving costs on rent.

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