Members of Parliament have criticised the manner in which the Uganda Police Force (UPF) land leased to foreign entities is being utilised, saying the entities breached the terms of agreement.
Legislators in reacting to the findings of the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on UPF land, were disturbed to discover that land measuring 4.26 acres leased to the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) has been hired out to YUASA Car Bond for 49 years.
The report shows another piece of land measuring 3.5 acres that UNAFRI leased to Future Group Ltd, the owners of Futures Car Bond for 99 years. This, according to the committee findings, was in breach of the terms of agreement for which UPF land was allocated to UNAFRI.
“Government granted UNAFRI a lease in 2011 on the understanding that the institute would develop the land establishing offices, classrooms, library, storage, and housing accommodation. However, the committee found that UNAFRI had hardly made any developments on the land,” said Hon. Wilson Kajwengye, the committee chairperson.
Kajwengye presented the report during the Tuesday, 31 October 2023 sitting that was chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
The report also shows 12 UPF bungalows sitting on 10 acres of land temporarily given to UNAFRI, were rented out to third parties by the UN body.
“The then Minister of Internal Affairs in 2010 wrote to the Permanent Secretary of his Ministry allowing UNAFRI to temporarily use the 12 senior staff houses of Police for free, until such a time that the institute developed the parcel of land allocated to it. Instead of occupying the houses, UNAFRI rented them out to third parties for income generation,” read the report.
The committee unearthed connivance by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) in altering land allocated to the institute by government from 16 to 30 acres.
“The implication is that 5.594 hectares of UPF land was encroached upon without any formal backing of government. The committee is compelled to believe that there was connivance in ULC to allocate the excess of the land to UNAFRI by unscrupulous officials for personal gain,” said Kajwengye.
The Deputy Speaker was dismayed that a UN entity was involved in such dealings, and directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to address the accusations as per the diplomatic arrangements.
“A UN agency is given land and it starts car dealing, my only fear is that whereas we have obligations to our partner states, we also have obligations to Ugandans. Even diplomats are reprimanded but there are channels,” Tayebwa said.
The State Minister for Regional Affairs, Hon. John Mulimba, reiterated that since mediation for a UN entity cannot be conducted by one state, his ministry will engage UNAFRI’s governance board to settle the disputes.
The House was equally concerned to learn that the terms on which land given for establishment of the Ugandan-Iranian health centre on Katalima Road, Naguru currently named Iran-Uganda Hospital, have all been breached.
The agreement signed in 2010 dictated that Uganda would provide land, while the Iranian government would contribute US$1.5 million as development aid, but the committee found no documentary evidence to Iran government’s commitment.
“Without documentary evidence of the remittance of the development aid of US$1.5 million by the Iranian government to the Government of Uganda, rendering the agreement between the two governments impractical and constraining,” Kajwengye said.
The findings expose irregular change of ownership of the health centre without the knowledge of Police. The project was registered as a private limited liability company wherein two Iranians owned 98 percent and two percent shares respectively, without the knowledge of UPF.
The hospital has also failed to implement the agreed 50 percent subsidy on treatment of Police staff and their immediate dependents.
MPs said it was high time the lands ministry established and declared all government owned land, citing rampant illegal possession of government land.
“The complaints are many on erroneous allocation of land. Can the minister tell us how best the ministry is addressing this? Can we get to know how much land have we deprived the Uganda Police?” asked Hon. Jesca Ababiku (NRM, Adjumani District Woman MP).
The Kaberamaido County MP, Hon. Alfred Edakasi, said most of the government land in his district was not registered, and thus vulnerable to encroachment.
“There are over 1,000 acres that belong to a government ranch in Kaberamaido but we cannot tell where their titles are. Let government declare all government land so that we know all status of all government-owned land,” Edakasi said.
The lands minister, Hon. Judith Nabakooba, conceded that government has not surveyed and titled all its land as required. She pledged to update House on all government-owned and registered land within two weeks.