Govt entered into an agreement in 2007 under which the tenants’ first priority right to purchase the dedicated and subsidiary units was recognised
Structures being erected in Naguru Housing Estate in Nakawa division. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey
Upset by the sale of Nakawa-Naguru housing estates land to individuals, the ex-tenants have resolved to take a legal path to seek redress.
The ex-tenants had been promised first priority to take over housing units in the estate upon its planned redevelopment by Opec Prime Properties Limited. But the deal collapsed after Opec failed to secure funds.
Through Kwesigabo, Bamwine and Walubiri advocates, the ex- tenants under their umbrella organisation; Naguru/Nakawa Tenants Association, have filed a notice of intention to sue government and agencies responsible for the housing estate.
They served the Attorney General, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director.
"Our clients were lawful tenants of Naguru/Nakawa Housing Estates who entered into agreement with the government of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Local Government under which it was agreed that the tenants vacate the said estate to enable the redevelopment of the estate under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and in consideration thereof; the tenants were given a right to purchase the dedicated and subsidised residential flats on first priority basis," the tenants' lawyers wrote.
They said government entered into an agreement with a developer, Opec, on October 15, 2007 under which agreement the tenants' first priority right to purchase the dedicated and subsidiary units was recognised.
Government evicted the 1,750 families from the two estates measuring 189 acres in July 2011 and handed over the site to Opec in December 2012. Naguru housing estate had 753 housing units while Nakawa had 932 units.
"Our clients contend that they fulfilled their obligations under the agreement with government but in breach of the agreement, government has failed to supervise the project and the developer has since 2007 to date failed to develop the project in accordance with the PPP agreement with government, and the government has failed and/or refused to invoke any sanctions against the developer to the detriment and prejudice of the tenants," they lawyers stated.
The tenants also faulted government for failing to communicate or give them any information as stakeholders in the project as agreed, contrary to policy and good practice for public projects affecting local stakeholders/communities.
They argued that government and the developer have parcelled out and sold or leased parts of the estate to third parties to the detriment of the tenants.
The tenants demanded that government engages the tenants with a view to address their concerns, and that part of the land reserved for the construction of the 1,747 dedicated residential flats be transferred to tenants. They said they are ready and able to engage and pay a competent contractor/developer to construct the dedicated flats for their housing.
They also demanded involvement as stakeholders in any future decision-making process to ensure that their interests are properly articulated and taken into account.
"Take notice that of our clients' demands are not accommodated and if no meaningful dialogue is commenced within 30 days from the date of this letter, our firm instructions are to refer the matter to courts of law to protect our clients' interests," the lawyers wrote.
Govt agencies comment
The Solicitor General, Francis Atoke, who speaks for the office of the Attorney General, said he had not yet seen the notice.
But KCCA confirmed that they had received the notice. However, KCCA's acting director legal affairs, Charles Ouma, said they would first liaise with the other parties served with the notice before commenting on the matter.
"We shall give you a brief in the course of next week since there is need to coordinate with other government stakeholders to render an appropriate response," Ouma said. Attempts to get a comment from the Local Government Ministry's permanent secretary, Benjamin Kumamanya, were futile.
The ex-tenants' decision to go to court follows a recent Saturday Vision expose in which it highlighted that the land that had been awarded to Opec for redevelopment into a satellite town is now for sale.
Besides the 60 acres of land that government donated to Aga Khan for construction of a 600-bed teaching hospital, several plots the remaining land have under unclear circumstances been parcelled out and sold to individuals.
It also emerged that over 80 plots of land have since been parcelled out for individuals, and at least 13 of the beneficiaries have already started erecting mansions. Standing at the Nakawa division headquarters, one can view the construction sites of these mansions, some of which have posh cars parked nearby.
Sources revealed that Opec, a member of the Comer Homes Group of UK, had promised to construct 5,000 housing units at $300m (sh1.08 trillion), but it has since pulled out of the project.
Uganda Land Commission confirmed that Opec had opted out, and that part of the land had been given to Aga Khan for a teaching hospital, while other plots were given to individuals. However, the commission did not give names of plot beneficiaries.
Besides Aga Khan, the Islamic University in Uganda, House of Dawda, the National Library, William Nkemba, Mr and Mrs Ponsiano Ngabirano, Abner Besigye and CTM were allocated land.
In November 2014, government also announced that it would take over seven acres of the estate for construction of offices.