By Josephine Maseruka
Government could take at least five years to transfer Kigo prison to the new proposed site at Kasanje in Wakiso district, according to Frank Baine, the Prisons publicist.
He explained that already only a third of the total sh3bn needed to acquire the 300-acre-land in Kasanje had been availed by the Government.
â€œWe cannot think of moving that prison in the very near future. It could be in five years because we must ensure that the infrastructure in place is adequate to accommodate among others hard core criminals including suspected terrorists and convicts.â€
Baine said that a modern prison at the required international standards would cost Government sh40bn which money is not readily available.
â€œYou donâ€™t expect to move out the Government over night. Many things are still pending.â€
At the same site, another multi-functional prison worth sh80bn would be set up for terror suspects. It will accommodate cybercrime suspects and drug traffickers, according to the Uganda prisons Service commissioner general Dr. Johnson Byabashaija.
Mengo establishment has battled with Government over the return of Kigo prison since 2008 and a few months ago court ordered the Government to pay sh11.5bn to Mengo for utilizing the facility since 1993.
Kigo prison is on a 328.6 acre-land also housing the Kigo farm and other new structures like a school and accommodation facilities of Prison warders. It is located on Kyadondo Block 273 plot 38.
The prison was built by Sir Edward Muteesa II, Kabaka Ronald Mutebiâ€™s father, in 1952. The kingdom properties were grabbed by the Milton obote regime after abrogating the constitution in 1966.
However in August 1993 Government returned the kingdomâ€™s assets under the traditional Rulers Restitution of Properties and assets Act 1993.
Since then Uganda Government which is occupying and utilizing the said farm and prison has not paid ground rent and premium. It is yet to honour the court order.
Mengo officials when contacted said that the kingdom had lost a lot of money which would have been raised from that prime land.
Four years ago, Kabakaâ€™s Government entered into a joint deal with Shotts, a Canadian company to construct a multi-million dollar leisure centre and executive hotel on the Kigo land.
Shotts was to invest US$60m (about sh11.4b) in the project. President Museveni had allowed Mengo to utilize part of the prison land that used to be a shooting range for the project but Shotts insisted on re-locating the prison before starting on the project.
A Mengo official who preferred anonymity said that the investors could not wait that long so the offer was lost.
â€œOver the years, Governmentâ€™s main problem has been securing land where to transfer the prison. If they have got it let them move fast because the kingdom wants to utilize that land. The earlier the better,â€
The prison currently accommodates about 600 hard-core criminals in both female and male wings. There is a primary school, a hatchery, staff quarters and a separate newly established police marine.