By Our Reporter
Kampala, Uganda: Trade and Industry Minister, Hon, Kafabusa Werikhe has come out to clear his name regarding press reports that he encroached in National Forestry Authority (NFA ) Forest reserve land in Namanve.
He said he acquired the once acre of land at the Kampala Business Industrial Park genuinely from the Uganda Land Commission.
Daily Monitor on Thursday reported and named Micheal Kafabusa Werikhe among the top eight other government officials, and companies who encroached on the Namanve Central Forest Reserve land in Wakiso district.
The minister’s name came to the limelight during the grilling of top NFA officials by the Parliamentary Committee on National Resources.
National Forestry Authority officials led by the Executive Director Tom Okello and the Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris appeared before the committee on Wednesday, November 7, 2019.
The committee chaired by Hon Keffa Kiwanuka is investigating several cases related to environmental degradation in the country.
Though officials of NFA told the committee that Hon Werikhe’s land located on Plot 227, Block 115 was in a (Namanve) Forest reserve, documents (that we obtained) from the ULC showed that Werikhe, just like other over a dozen current and former ministers purchased Plot 227 Block 113 (NOT 115) after following the due diligence, procedures and laid down the purchase requirements, like any other buyer.
According to the list from ULC, very many senior government officials, ministers, and their spouses own chunks of land at the Kampala Industrial Park.
Among those we established own huge chunks of land include Uganda’s envoy to Burundi, Maj. General Matayo Kyaligonza who owns 23 acres, former Lands Minister Daniel Omara Atubo, former Energy Minister Kamanda Bataringaya, and former Urban state Minister Urban Tibamanya, who are all actually neighbors to Hon Kafabusa Werikhe.
Also named is former Minister for Industry Daudi Migereko, who purchased land in the area under his wife’s name, Harriet Migereko. Other ministers with huge chunks of land in the “alleged’ forest reserve are Defence Minister Adolf Mwesigye, and State Minister for Economic Monitoring, Kasirivu Atwoki.
When we visited the contentious land, in Namanve, most of the above-named ministers had already developed their portion of the land, with the majority having warehouses acting as storage already in place.
The land in question for Werikhe Kafabusa has long been developed with a warehouse already stationed in the one-acre piece of land. The title from the Lands registry (that we obtained), that was signed by Commissioner for Surveys and Mappings (Yafesi Okia) indicates that Werikhe purchased Block 113 Plot 227 (Ref: ULC/154/458) in 2007.
According to officials from the ULC, the entire land these top government officials purchased was earmarked as a site for construction of a residential hub to cater for those working in the Industrial Park.
Werikhe concurred when asked: “Yes it is true Uganda Land Commission advertised for purchase of that land that was supposed to be used as a residential area for those who were to work in the Industrial Park. I just like my other colleagues (ministers) applied and was duly given the land.” He wondered why the media particularly chose to highlight only him leaving out all the others who also own land in the same area.
What is ULC?
The ULC was created by the Ugandan Parliament in 1995. The mission of the ULC is to hold and manage all land in Uganda legally owned or acquired by Government in accordance with the Constitution of Uganda.
ULC is a semi-autonomous land verification, monitoring and preservation organization, owned by the Ugandan government that is mandated to document, verify, preserve and maintain land owned and/or administered by the government.
The commission is also responsible for holding and managing land owned by Uganda, outside of the country. However, that second mandate may be delegated to Uganda’s Missions abroad. The Commission is governed by a full-time Chairperson, assisted by up to eight part-time Commissioners. The Commission’s Secretariat is headed by the Secretary who is assisted by the Undersecretary.
What is Kampala Industrial and Business Par (KIBP)?
The Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP), also referred to as Kampala Business and Industrial Park or Kampala Industrial Park is an industrial and business park developed by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) as a central place where investors can locate factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and other business offices.
The 89 sqkm (2,209 acres) Park is located in Namanve Kira Municipality, in Wakiso District.
The industrial park was created by an act of parliament in 1997. An area measuring 894 hectares (2,210 acres), previously occupied by a national eucalyptus forest was de-gazetted for that purpose.
Over 200 businesses acquired land and space on concessional terms to establish their businesses in the park. Roofings Limited, a manufacturer of galvanized iron bars, wires, and sheets, began production in September 2010 at a new factory called Roofings Rolling Mills Limited and located in the business park.
In August 2018, UIA announced that all the land in the industrial park had been allocated to 290 prospective investors, of whom 192 (66.2 percent) were Ugandan-based and 98 (33.8 percent) were foreign-based.