Parents reject petrol station on Namutumba school land

Parents of Namutumba Primary School in Namutumba Town Council during a meeting on June 21, 2-2023. PHOTO/RONALD SEEBE

What you need to know:

  • They urge the government to intervene in the matter. 

Parents of Namutumba Primary School in Namutumba Town Council have foiled a move to have a fuel station constructed on the institute’s land.

The land measuring 100 by 100 feet, located on Mbale-Tirinyi highway, is opposite Namutumba District Electoral Commission Offices and Kisiki College Secondary School 

Parents blame the leadership of Central Busoga Diocese for parceling out part of the land to Praise Petroleum Company, warning that once a fuel station is constructed, it will jeopardise the operations of the school. The school has been in existence for 97 years. It was founded by the Church of Uganda in 1926 and sits on five acres.

Ms Esther Namugosa, a parent, says she is “bothered” by allegations that Praise Petroleum Company plans to also buy the whole school land.

“This is the only government-aided primary school in town which performs well in Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE); so, constructing a fuel station means it will be demolished,” Ms Namugosa said at the weekend.

Mr Paul Kirunda, another parent, warns that if the Iganga-based Central Busoga Diocese doesn’t withdraw its intention to offer land to construct a fuel station, he is going to rally Christians to shun all its activities and (tithe) contributions.

Mr Isa Maganda, a parent and councillor representing Budongo Ward, said the authorities are against the move because the law does not allow fuel stations to be constructed at a school.

He added: “We need Church for spiritual food and also a school; so, I request Church to withdraw because if a fuel station is constructed at school, we are likely to lose a historical institute which has existed for more than 90 years.”

Sources said the land was sold at Shs200m, while plans to construct a fuel station at the school started in 2019 during the Covid-19 period, with Praise Petroleum Company clearing the land.

The land-clearing process only stalled after Ms Persis Namuganza, then State minister for Lands, intervened.

In 2021, sources said the company was allocated another plot on Namutumba-Bulange Road to put up a fuel station but it declined, saying it wants the highway.

The parents’ concerns follow a meeting held at the school last Wednesday. 
During the meeting, Ms Christine Kasisa, the vice chairperson of the school management committee, said: “My Church [foundation body] sold the land and anytime, development is going to start.”

Parents were also told that the land in contention was gazetted for the construction of a nursery school and pit-latrines.

However, the Central Busoga Diocesan Secretary, Mr Patrick Kemba, refuted such claims. “It is news to us as the Church because we do not have plans of giving school land to an investor to construct a fuel station,” he said.

Rev Joshua Kabweru, the parents’ teachers association (PTA) chairperson, said the school management committee wrote to the diocese, whose leadership said the land was given to an investor to develop it.

“We are saying no! and why we called you (parents) is to join hands and we came up with a document, stopping the investor from taking school land,” Rev Kabweru said. 

Mr Aggrey Lugemu, the school head teacher, said he had been receiving threatening messages  over land issues, adding the  fuel station should not be constructed at the school.