Unra, Nyakana in fresh row over Centenary Park

Monday October 26 2020

An artistic view of Centenary Park after the construction of the expressway. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Andrew Bagala

A fresh row has erupted between the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) and Nalongo Estates Ltd about the size of land that is supposed to be handed over for the construction of the Kampala flyover at Centenary Park.

Last Friday, Unra officials with the help of heavily armed police officers from the Counter Terrorism Unit demarcated the entire 4.7 acres of Centenary Park as land that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) handed over to them.

This is contrary to an earlier claim by Ms Sarah Kizito, the owner of Nalongo Estates, that they had reached an agreement with KCCA and Unra to retain 2.5 acres of the land. Mr Godfrey Nyakana, the husband of Ms Kizito, said the U-turn by Unra is impunity of the highest order.

“They came on Friday with more than 30 police officers and wanted to take our land. I stopped them. I told them to go back to KCCA if they want to get more land. You can’t take someone’s land without compensating him or her. This is impunity,” Mr Nyakana said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Last Monday, President Museveni met all groups at the State House and said there should be a compromise, according to KCCA executive director Dorothy Kisaka and Ms Kizito.
Ms Kisaka said the President directed KCCA to hand over “surveyed and demarcated” land at Centenary Park for the Jinja Road flyover immediately.

On Thursday, Ms Kisaka, Unra head of enforcement John Bosco Sejemba and Ms Kizito met at Centenary Park where the piece of land was handed over to Unra. Ms Kizito said she had handed over two acres and that in return, KCCA had agreed to extend her lease on the remaining 2.5 acres.


Unra’s stance
A day later, Mr Allan Ssempebwa, the head of media relations at Unra, said the narrative by Ms Kizito was false, adding that they need five acres for the project and not two.

“The landlord, KCCA, should have clarified (to Nalongo Estates what was sold) since it was their (handover) function,” Mr Ssempebwa said.

According to KCCA records, in May 2006, Nalongo Estates was given a contract to manage the green public open space land at Centenary Park on behalf of city authorities. A contract was to be renewed after five years.

Nalongo Estates constructed permanent structures on part of the piece of land. After the expiry of the lease, KCCA attempted to obtain vacant possession of the land in vain. Parties occupying the land dragged city authorities in lengthy legal and political battles that ended up in a stalemate. In 2012, there was a physical confrontation between KCCA officers, who wanted to repossess the land, and the Minister of Trade Amelia Kyambadde.