Buganda in row over Masaka estate ownership

A section of the disputed Old Kumbu housing estate in Masaka City as seen on September 21, 2023. PHOTO/TONNY KALYANGO

What you need to know:

  • On top of eviction threats, sitting tenants also lack certainty on the rightful owner of the land also claimed by Buganda Land Board (BLB).

Residents at the Old Kkumbu housing estate in Masaka City have complained over being side-lined in the planned redevelopment of the area amidst threats for eviction.

They claim their efforts to convince city authorities to allow them as sitting tenants to redevelop the dilapidated housing units have fallen on deaf ears.
Old Kumbu Housing estates, which was constructed in 1947, has 53 housing units sitting  on Plot 55-56 Old Bukoba Road and Plot 98-104 Forest Road in Kimaanya/ Kyabakuza  Municipality . 

Zaitun Muyoba, one of the complainants told this publication that she secured tenancy in 2005 from the then Masaka Municipal Council,currently city council, but there are other people who are inspecting her house claiming they are the new owners.

“Some people have come here with surveyors from Masaka City. They have re-demarcated the area and reduced the plots from 35 by 70 feet to 35 by 35 feet which is contrary to the order issued by the city physical planning committee that prohibited plots under 50 by 100 feet under Section 32 (b) of the Physical Planning Act 2010,”she said in an interview on Thursday  

Abdul Bukenya, another sitting tenant, said a group of men last month descended on the estate and started taking measurements of several housing units.

“We confronted them [surveyors] and they openly told us that they own some plots of land here and also possess land titles though declined to avail details. We’re stuck on the status of our plots,” he said.

Muyoba claimed that efforts to obtain clarity from city council offices have not yielded fruit.

“Council has for years refused to provide clear guidelines on redevelopment of this estate, the houses look dilapidated because the uncertainty of the ownership scares us to invest money in the structures that were condemned,” she added.

On top of eviction threats, sitting tenants also lack certainty on the rightful owner of the land also claimed by Buganda Land Board (BLB).

In 2009, BLB surveyors surveyed the estate, advising residents to register and regularise their occupancy, Old Kkunbu  chairperson Rose Nayiga revealed.

 “Some people paid Shs50,000-Shs600,000 for surveying and registration respectively but I  shunned it because my tenancy was granted by the Municipal Council,” she added.

When contacted, Masaka City clerk Vincent Okurut said re-developing the estate was halted.

“I want to allay fears of residents of Old Kkumbu Estate that there is no immediate plan to evict them. That land belongs to Masaka City according to available records and I’m not aware of an authentic private title/s for Old Kkumbu Estate,” he emphasized.

He said when the plan to redevelop the estate is out, sitting tenants will be given priority. 

But Mr Abdallah Kato, the Kabaka’s deputy chief for Buddu County insists that Old Kkumbu housing estate land is owned by Buganda Kingdom and is among the properties that were confiscated by former President Milton Obote’s government in 1966 and turned into public land.

“Old Kumbu estate land is just a small portion of the vast acreage of land the kingdom owns in Masaka City.   In 2013, some titles were returned to the Kabaka and they are yet to be transferred. So, the city authorities need to work with BLB if they want to continue using that land,” he noted.