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Top Housing Chiefs Under Investigation

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th July 2003 03:00 AM

TOP National Housing and Construction Corporation (NH&CC) officials are still under Police probe over alleged mismanagement and financial impropriety.

TOP National Housing and Construction Corporation (NH&CC) officials are still under Police probe over alleged mismanagement and financial impropriety.

By Yunusu Abbey
TOP National Housing and Construction Corporation (NH&CC) officials are still under Police probe over alleged mismanagement and financial impropriety.

The CID deputy director, Okoth Ochola, told The New Vision recently that they were yet to finalise the inquiry.

“We have already interviewed almost all those involved in the allegations, including officials in Lands. We shall soon send the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice,” Ochola said.

But Martin Kasekende, the NH&CC general manager, said the CID conducted the investigations sometime back and seemed to have closed the probe.

“We gave them (CID) all the files and our side of the story. But I am surprised the same allegations are coming up again,” Kasekende said.

Kasekende said NH&CC management had never seen Sseezi Cheeye’s report apart from hearing it as rumours. “In all fairness, at least we would have been availed that report,” he said.

Cheeye is the economic affairs director in the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).
Ochola, however, said the CID had not yet closed the case file contrary to some reports. “We just can’t close a file like that. It is the DPP to advise us,” he said.

The CID probe follows previous investigations, which Cheeye; conducted into the state-owned NH&CC.

Dated September 2002 and addressed to President Yoweri Museveni, Cheeye’s 65-page report spotlighted Kasekende, Peters Musoke, corporation secretary and Aloysius Lubowa, the technical manager.

Others are Ham Tumuhairwe, housing manager and Peninah Tibaruha, the chief internal auditor, who resigned early this year.

Apart from Kasekende, all the named officials were unwilling to comment on the report, saying they have never seen or read it.

“The implicated top NH&CC managers should be suspended, charged and if found guilty, be imprisoned because of their involvement in the malpractices investigated,” the Cheeye report said.

Cheeye, who conducted the investigations following Museveni’s June 13, 2002 directive, said NH&CC lost billions of shillings in ‘shoddy’ deals.

He said the transactions included the Naalya Housing project, the Lubowa land purchase, evaluation of flats for sale under the Condominium Law and others.

He said at Naalya, the construction cost was inflated from sh5,740,000 to sh16,080,150 per unit, contrary to Bwik Consultant’s recommendation.

He also cited the acquisition of 108 acres of land from Pan World Insurance in which NH&CC lost about sh960m and another $319,017 paid to Eco-Shelter & Environmental Consultants, “for work not done,” among others.

The report said NHCC officials also illegally acquired 17 prime government properties such as plot 74,76 & 78 Prince Charles Drive, Kololo.

It adds that after the acquisition, management sold the properties and failed to remit the money to the consolidated account, contrary to government regulations.

“The money involved is said to be more than sh2b. The Government should force NH&CC to transfer all the money it got from sale and rent from illegal transactions on Government properties, to the Consolidated account as suggested by the Auditor General,” adds the report.

The report also proposed that all the prime properties, which NH&CC illegally acquired, should be vested back into Uganda Land Commission and be reserved for future civil servants.

Musoke, the corporation secretary, strongly contested Cheeye’s findings and criticised The New Vision for publishing what he called negative stories about NH&CC.

An angry Musoke said the paper seemed to have been ‘bribed’ to carry out a smear campaign against NH&CC. He cited an April 16 spotlight story on the Crested Towers renovation cost which has since escalated to US$20m.

On June 6, Byabakama-Mugenyi, the Deputy DPP, wrote to the PS lands ministry permanent secretary about the alleged illegal transfer of government pool houses on Plot 35-45 Kanjokya Street by NH&CC officials.

“The CID has been carrying out investigations on the above allegations. The file was submitted to the DPP for perusal and advice,” Byabakama said.

“Upon careful reading of the file, we realised that a decision cannot be made without the documents enumerated in the letter dated March 13, 2003, from CID,” he said.

Byabakama said, “This is therefore to request the said documents be availed to the CID to enable us take a decision based on all facts.”

Cheeye said NH&CC was involved in forgery of land mapping and statutory instruments. He said he had obtained the original mapping, which shows that NH&CC was given part of land on Kanjokya Street marked 35-99.

Intex Building & Civil Engineering Contractors Ltd. built the houses at a cost of sh3,216,030,130.

“The work was inflated by a whole sh10,340,150, meaning that a whole sh2,068,030,000 in inflated cost was embezzled on a single deal of building 200 units only,” Cheeye added.

He criticised NH&CC for buying a huge tract of swamp at Naalya, which accounts for 35% of the land there.

“Management is now justifying the purchase by claiming it wanted it for greenery, and for drainage purpose. But surely, how can a whole 35% of the land be for sewage and drainage? Cheeye asked.

It said on December 16, 2000, NH&CC contracted Eco-Shelter to carry out consultancy work, which involved the sale of 1,469 flats under the Condominium Law. The contract sum was US$355,522. Cheeye said the officials should pay the $355,522.

Top Housing Chiefs Under Investigation

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