Kampala- Uganda could become home to the biggest shopping mall in East Africa after the completion of the Shs4 trillion Nakawa-Naguru modern satellite town project whose construction was commissioned by President Museveni yesterday.
On completion, the satellite town, eight years behind schedule, will also host recreational facilities, places of worship, Nakawa Division headquarters, a five-star hotel, a referral hospital, and schools on the 160 acre estate. Also proposed is a shopping mall and more than 1,747 flats, bungalows and commercial blocks for sale.
However, the President expressed dismay over the delay of the estates project, blaming it on the corrupt government bureaucrats he branded “enemies of Uganda” and “some elements” in his government who are always “asking for kickbacks.”
“Why waste all this time? In fact, I am embarrassed and not celebrating as we all should be; although it’s better late than never.”
The President noted: “...and this is all because of some actors who have eyes but don’t see and ears but don’t hear; but have been cynically using other people’s ignorance.”
Mr Museveni exempted the investor from any blame, “because he has suffered setbacks from elements in the government who ask for kickbacks on everything”.
“I have had regimes come and go, the (Kahinda) Otafiire regime, (Tarsis) Kabwegyere (former Local government PS) Vincent Ssekkono, now is (Adolf) Mwesige’ regime,” he said.
The government, through the Ministry of Local Government in 2007, signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Opec Prime Properties Ltd, a local firm, under which the re-development project will see the area transformed into a modern town.
Mr Mohammed Mulindwa, the Opec Prime chief operating officer, said the first phase would involve constructing about 1,000 flats dedicated for the previous tenants who signed agreement with the developers.
“The contracted time schedule was December 2012 for a period of four years. We are a little behind but we shall ensure we move fast since groundbreaking is complete,” Mr Mulindwa said.
The Irish-London based Comer Group International will finance and contractually own the development for a period of 30 years, and have already secured government validation.
The project’ transaction adviser, Mr George Brenan, maintained that, “all the required funding for the modern estate is fully available”.
A total of 1,750 sitting tenants were evicted between 2007 and 2011 to pave way for the re-development of the dilapidated existing structures built in the 1950’s.
REASONS FOR DELAY
Apart from kickbacks to government officials, the project has also suffered hiccups among others, the IGG’s investigations in 2009 and bureaucracy from state authorities. At least 60 per cent of the project will be residential and 40 per cent commercial. The government version of the delay was that of a tedious process of titling the land into the names of the investors and dealing with issues surrounding compensation demands by former tenants. Officials at the Ministry of Local Government, the entity overseeing the project, said that the delay was “negligible” and the project will soon start and is expected to last 10 years.