Police guard part of the contested piece of land in Kyambogo, Kampala, on Monday. PHOTO/ALEX ESAGALA
By Amos Ngwomoya & Damali Mukhaye
Kyambogo University never owned the land that it is claiming, City Hall and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) said yesterday.
Instead, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and NEMA say the disputed land was originally gazetted as a catchment area for Kinawataka wetland stretch.
Cabinet, however, degazetted the land in 2017 in order to free it to be developed as a public park and green belt in line with the 2013 – 2023 KCCA physical development plan, according to officials and records of the two agencies.
Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor Eli Katunguka last evening said: “Then NEMA should come with an indication of which land they degazetted and where it is. It may be further down in the valley. They should come up with evidence.”
The contest over the land has escalated after Kampala District Land Board (KDLB) on Monday, took earth moving equipment to flatten the area north of the university.
However, documents seen by this newspaper show that Cabinet’s decision to degazzette the land was informed by the need to implement the Kampala Physical Development Plan (KPDP) for 2013-2023, which recognises this land as one of the areas to establish a city-wide urban park with a green system.
Subsequently, the executive director of the National Environment Management Authority, Dr Tom Okurut, wrote to the then Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, on March 28, 2018, informing her of the Cabinet resolution.
“…Cabinet at its meeting on June 7, 2017 vide minute [CT2017] approved the roadmap for cancelation of titles in wetlands on public land. The list of plot numbers with titles in wetlands for cancellation and for vanquishing/degazetting and for specific action is attached below,” the letter reads in part.
The degazetting of the land meant that it is now the mandate of the KDLB to manage.
Ms Ann Achom, the KCCA physical planner, who is attached to KDLB, told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that when the land was vanquished or degazetted, it transitioned from an original wetland to an urban park to restore the ecological features.
“We all know that
before you title any land you must seek clearance from the user district
land-use office, so KCCA has never given any instruction that the land
should be used for other purposes other than those within the KPDP,” she
But Ms Achom said if the university wants part of the land as per the use stated in the KPDP, they should follow legal procedure and that KDLB is ready to help them.
She said KDLB is not fighting the university but are implementing Cabinet resolution because they are the city’s custodian of public land.
KDLB chairperson David Balondemu said there is no way Kyambogo University could claim ownership of land which was formerly gazetted as a catchment.
Mr Balondemu noted that the land in question is not part of the titled land which the university currently owns.
He said KDLB is mandated under Article 239 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda to manage and administer land which is not owned by any person or authority.
“Government’s takeover of the Kyambogo Link Land through KDLB is, therefore, consistent with Cabinet’s approval, and these legal provisions. As part of the preparations for the takeover, we engaged with squatters, local leaders and other stakeholders,” he said.
He also revealed that the land is being repossessed by the government to enable KCCA implement the Kampala Physical Development Plan.
The plan provides for developing a city-wide urban park with green projects, to cater for public parks, eco-tourism, recreation, nature walks, public wellness and enhancement of the ecosystem.
“When fully developed, the Kyambogo Urban Park will also contribute towards mitigating the negative effects of environmental degradation, climate change, and improve the beauty and landscape of Kampala city,” he said.
Credit to Daily Monitor.