Bank of Uganda has halted construction of a Currency Centre at the disputed Masaka Golf land amid intensified public protests.
The land in question is located between Tropic Inn Hotel, Masaka State Lodge and Golf Lane Hotel. Masaka Municipality allocated about two acres off the 40-acre piece of land where Masaka Golf Course sits. The land belongs to Uganda Golf Union although Masaka municipality also claims to have a 99-year lease on the same land.
In 2012, Masaka municipality allowed Bank of Uganda to construct a currency centre therein. During the Christmas season, China Railway Group Limited fenced off part of the land and started clearing it to kick-start construction of the centre.
Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka Mayor claims that the municipality approved the construction after changing the user for this land because Golf as a sport is dead in Masaka.
But the construction is already being challenged by Uganda Golf Union which says they have never approved any allocation as owners of this land.
On Thursday, another group of Masaka district leaders led by Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja and the district chairperson Jude Mbabaali stormed the construction site to stop the process. The officials handed over letters from Uganda Golf Union and another written by Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, who as Local Government minister in 2005, banned allocation of Golf Course land to private developers.
But as district leaders were handing over letters to the contractors, rowdy youths started pulling down the fence erected around the disputed land. They also threatened to lynch the construction workers forcing them to flee.
A lorry carrying poles was stopped at the entrance and the drivers forced to relocate their poles elsewhere.
Mbabaali says they stopped the construction because the allocation was illegal. He says preliminary investigations show that the land is still under Uganda Golf Union ownership.
Mbabaali also notes that he has received communication from Deputy Governor of Bank of Uganda, Dr Louis Kasekende halting the process.
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MP Florence Namayanja asked the contractors to explain why they did not put up sign posts displaying all details about the contract if they are transparent.
Namayanja also said if indeed the land was allocated, whoever did it will take personal liability of refunding the money.
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Matia Mulindwa Kagugube, a resident of Masaka wants the district land board disbanded claiming they are corrupt.
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Deputy Director Communications Kelvin Kiyingi Kizito declined to comment on the matter. He said in a telephone interview that he could not speak because he was driving. “ We will talk later, am driving yet there are traffic officers just here,” Kizito said in a telephone interview.