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Custodian Board admits selling contested property to Mukwano

FILE PHOTO: Mukwano Group of Companies

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the sub-committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises have dropped investigations into compensation paid to Mukwano Industries by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).

The decision by the sub-committee which was tasked by Parliament to investigate the dubious acquisition of expropriated properties followed the understanding that the property was no longer in the hands of the government.

The legislators have been specifically investigating how UNRA paid out 7 billion Shillings as compensation to Mukwano Industries to take over Plot 13/25 and Plot M30 Press House road.

The land is part of the project site for the construction of the Kampala flyover. The investigation by the Committee chaired by Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi had earlier received a petition from businessman Nicolas Musisi claiming that the land which was taken following the expulsion of Asians in 1972 had been leased to him by the Kampala District Land Board (KDLB).

However, the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board insisted that the property had been reverted to the government after the original proprietors did not return to physically repossess. The land had been gazetted for sale since 1995.

Now following last week’s sub-committee meeting with UNRA where UNRA revealed that Mukwano Industries surrendered all the legal proof of ownership before compensation was paid, MPs on Thursday met the Custodian Board, Kampala District Land Board and Mukwano Industries.

According to Irene Julu, the Custodian Board member of the Divestiture Committee also confirmed to MPs that the property was sold to Mukwano industries.

She explained that the property was sold through a private treaty and that the Custodian Board records indicate that it has since been sold several times.

“By the time I joined the Custodian Board, Mukwano was using it and it is our mistake not to have corrected the records,” she said.

Julu further stated that Mukwano industries before giving out the land to UNRA first went to the Board to regularize the transaction that had been made in error.

Following her testimony, legislators decided to drop the probe on circumstances how Mukwano Industries acquired the property.

The sub-committee chairperson Kasozi says that the Custodian Board needs to amend the statutory instrument that shows the property is still up for sale. He directed that this should be done in one month.

Mukwano Industries lawyer Ebert Byenkya said that they will now formally withdraw their judicial review application in the High Court that sought orders to quash the investigations by the sub-committee.  According to Byenkya, the case had already been set for hearing on Tuesday next week.

Mukwano Industries had sued the sub-committee, the Attorney General William Byaruhanga and the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige.

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