Friday August 11 2017

Vendors remain uncertain as Nateete Market land is sold off


KAMPALA. A row has erupted over the sale of Nateete Market, leaving hundreds of vendors stranded with many accusing Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) of failing to defend their interests as sitting tenants.
The market at the centre of controversy measures one acre of mailo land in Kyadondo-Mengo, Rubaga Division. It is managed by KCCA.
According to the sale agreement dated October 22, 2015, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, the market was sold to R.R Family Transporters Ltd by the proprietors of the contested land.
The proprietors are: Mr Musa Ddamulira, Ms Madina Nassejje, Mr Juma Lutwama, Mr Suleiman Nsimbe and Mr Ismail Sebugwawo.
Documents show that they had acquired a loan of Shs250m from a one Mr David Bukalamye which they failed to repay, forcing them to sell the Nateete Market land.
However, by the time it was sold, vendors under their umbrella of Nateete Vendors Company Ltd, still had a lease running for the next 46 years.
According to documents, after buying the land, R.R Family Transporters Ltd then asked the proprietors to cancel the lease which had been given to Nateete Vendors Company Ltd to guarantee them full ownership to mitigate further encumbrances.
Vendors told Daily Monitor that their leaders connived with the proprietors of the land to sell it off by cancelling the lease without seeking their consent.
On May 17, the leaders of Nateete Vendors Company Ltd surrendered the lease to the proprietors of the land, saying that they don’t have any interest in the lease.
“…At the moment, we have no interest in the existing lease and however, do hereby recommend the cancellation of the existing lease in the names of Nateete Vendors Company Ltd to the owner of the Mailo Land,” their letter reads in part.
The three directors who surrendered the lease are: Mr Stephen Ntanzi, Mr Dirisa Ndugwa and Mr Joseph Zziwa.
Vendors have since protested the transaction, alleging that the market land was fraudulently sold off.
They have also tasked KCCA to explain why they approved the sale of the land on which they have permanent structures which were constructed with funding from World Bank.
“This is broad day theft because we were ready to buy this market as vendors but we were never informed. We are now worried because we could be evicted any time,” said Ms Esther Nabatanzi, a vendor.
On July 15, vendors petitioned the Kampala minister, Ms Beti Kamya, asking her to probe the current controversy in the market.
They contend that both KCCA and R.R Family Transporters Ltd are collecting revenue from them, leaving them under suspense on who exactly owns the market.
“R.R Transports Ltd claims that KCCA sold the market to them but KCCA isn’t making any statement. This has caused fear among us as the stakeholders of Nateete Market,” the petition reads in part.
Although KCCA had filed an application on October 8, 2015 in the High Court of Kampala blocking the sale of the contested land, they later wrote to the Registrar of the Execution and Bailiffs Division of the High Court to have their application withdrawn.
“The applicant has thus lost interest in prosecuting the said application since it has been overtaken by events and has taken other remedial actions for redress. We are, therefore, withdrawing the said application since it has been rendered nugatory,” wrote Mr Caleb Mugisha, the KCCA acting director of litigation services.
Mr Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson, acknowledged the sale of the market land. However, he explained that although KCCA has structures on the contested land, it doesn’t belong to them.
“Nateete Market land isn’t on the list of land owned by KCCA and this makes it quite a challenge for us. However, our legal team is still studying the matter. We ask vendors to be calm as we find a possible solution,” he said.
However, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago described Mr Kaujju’s explanation as ‘reckless’.
He said KCCA should have bought the land for the sitting tenants as required by the law.
“Mr Caleb Mugisha has to account for this mess and as an authority, we shall not spare him because he has been messing up many things in the KCCA legal department and we are suspecting something fishy in this whole thing. It’s on record that we have been running Nateete market as KCCA and there is no way the legal department could say that they don’t have any interest in that land,” he said.
Ms Benny Namugwanya, the State minister for Kampala Affairs, told journalists at her office on Tuesday, that the irregular sale of Nateete Market is currently being probed.
“We are aware of the controversy in Nateete Market but I would like to assure vendors and all Kampala people that Nateete Market still belongs to the vendors. We are still studying the manner in which it was allegedly sold out and thereafter we shall make a decision as government,” she said.
According to the 1949 Markets Act, no person or authority other than the administration of the given district, municipal council or a towncouncil shall be allowed to establish or maintain a market.