Officials in Kampala yesterday struggled for words to describe the much anticipated transformation of the dilapidated Nakawa-Naguru housing estate into a modern satellite city.
This was at a glitzy function where the government officially handed over the site to developers.
For a project that has had a start-stop process since its inception nine years ago, there was little surprise to the excitement that senior government officials exhibited as they received architectural designs for a development touted as one that would forever change the city’s skyline.
Titled, New Kampala, the estate’s redevelopment master plan detailed artistic impressions of what the two estates will look like. A standout is a planned signature building in Nakawa in the form of a shield, which the developers described as one that promises to become “a regional resource and national icon.”
The government renewed its contractual obligations with the UK-based developers, Comer Group, who through local company Opec Prime Properties Ltd , are expected to invest $500million (Shs1.2 trillion) into the project.
The two parties signed an addendum contract yesterday to the 2007 Public Private Partnership (PPP) they ventured into which had since remained unimplemented.
“Today marks the commencement of the implementation stage,” said Comer Group chief executive Luke Comer. “A New Kampala is born today and I ask for cooperation from every stakeholder...”
Fifteen months ago, the government forcibly evicted some 1,750 sitting tenants from the land.
Many understood the government’s swift action would herald immediate implementation of the project but what is left of the 66-hectare Naguru-Nakawa estate today is tall bush-land.
Some 1,747 units will be set up to resettle tenants.
Lands Minister Daudi Migereko admitted that the ruling NRM party stood to enjoy serious political capital if the project succeeded.
“When you succeed, we shall also share part of your credit,” said Mr Migereko. “We may not share in your profits and dividends but credit at the political level as NRM… because of the good policies brought in.”
Kampala Capital City Authority boss Jennifer Musisi said she hoped the project would not stall further than it has and admitted that she was relieved that the authority would no longer be responsible for managing the two dilapidated estates.
“Someone was asking us if we are trying to build a zoo in the form of the site which had over grown,” she said. “It’s been expensive and also a challenge for us to take care of that property.”
Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesige apologised for delays in the project.
“I would like to assure you that all the challenges which... delayed take off of the project implementation have now been cleared,” he said.