Leaders in Jinja are divided over a proposal to sell some of the district’s properties to complete the construction of the district headquarters at Maga Maga Village in Buwenge Rural Sub-county.
The construction of the Shs4.3b building has stalled due to inadequate funds.
The district vice chairperson, Ms Florence Asio, on Monday tabled a proposal before council chaired by speaker Michael Nyende Musana to sell part of the land that houses the forestry, environment and Valuers ‘offices located on Nile Crescent.
Her proposal followed a report from the district and finance committee that there is a funding gap of Shs1.8b, which can be raised through the sale of such district properties.
Construction of the new offices started on December 11, 2019, with Shs2.5b acquired in 2014 from the sale of land adjacent to Busoga Square to Bank of Uganda for a currency centre.
The district chairperson, Mr Titus Kisambira, on Tuesday said they have to finish constructing the district offices before July 1, when Jinja attains a city status.
“By July 1, we must relocate to our new offices and because we cannot operate in an incomplete building, we must pave way for securing more funds to complete construction. The district treasury is incapacitated and the only alternative is to sell one of our properties,” he said.
Mr Kisambira, said the district cannot borrow money when it has property that can be disposed of and explained that the offices located on the building in question will be relocated to the new district administration block upon completion.
Although majority of the councillors resolved to dispose of the property, some, including the Jinja Resident District Commissioner, Mr Eric Sakwa, opposed the idea, arguing that “all government property will end up being sold.”
Mr David Isabirye, a councillor representing Bugembe Town Council, said the proposal is not supported by people he represents.
“Majority of the voters are against the proposal of selling off the property; the policy of selling district property to settle financial issues is not good and is likely to cause problems,” he said.
However, the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr William Kanyesigye, said if there is a public outcry, there must be a petition, which he said he had not yet seen.
Mr Kanyesigye, who was forced to account for the Shs2.5b and accrued interest since 2014 following the Bank of Uganda transaction, said the previous council decided that interest is embedded in local revenue.
Currently, the Jinja District offices are located at the municipality, near Busoga Square.
On October 22, 2019, Jinja District leadership signed a contract with Semwo Construction Company Limited to construct the new headquarters.
Construction works started on December 11, 2019 and were expected to be completed within 18 months.
The site engineer, Mr Vincent Ssewanya, said the new administration block will have 75 offices and council chambers with a sitting capacity of 97 people.