Members of Parliament have expressed concern over the usage of land leased by the Uganda Police Force (UPF) to foreign entities, alleging a breach of the terms of the agreements.
In response to the findings presented by the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs regarding UPF land, lawmakers were taken aback to discover that land originally allocated to the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) had been subleased to YUASA Car Bond for 49 years, totaling 4.26 acres.
Another piece of land measuring 3.5 acres leased to UNAFRI, which subsequently leased it to Future Group Ltd, the owners of Futures Car Bond for a lengthy 99-year period, was also noted as a breach of the original terms of the UPF land allocation.
The UPF granted a lease to UNAFRI in 2011 under the premise that UNAFRI would develop the land for offices, classrooms, a library, storage, and housing. However, the Committee found that UNAFRI had made minimal developments on the land, raising concerns about the misuse of the land.
The report on this matter was presented by Hon. Wilson Kajwengye, the committee chairperson, during a session on October 31, 2023, chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa.
The report further disclosed that 12 UPF bungalows, situated on 10 acres of land temporarily allocated to UNAFRI, were rented out to third parties by the UN body. In 2010, the then Minister of Internal Affairs allowed UNAFRI to use these senior staff houses at no cost until they developed the allocated land. Instead, UNAFRI chose to rent them out for financial gain.
The committee uncovered apparent collusion by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), which extended the land allocated to UNAFRI from 16 to 30 acres. This resulted in an encroachment of 5.594 hectares of UPF land without formal government authorization, indicating a potential connivance by ULC officials for personal gain.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa expressed dismay over the involvement of a UN entity in such activities and directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to address the allegations as per diplomatic protocols.
State Minister for Regional Affairs, Hon. John Mulimba, pledged to engage UNAFRI’s governance board to resolve the disputes, recognizing that mediation for a UN entity must involve multiple states.
The House was also troubled to learn that the Ugandan-Iranian health center agreement, now named Iran-Uganda Hospital, has breached its terms. The 2010 agreement stipulated that Uganda would provide land, while the Iranian government would contribute US$1.5 million as development aid. However, the committee found no documented evidence of the Iranian government’s commitment, rendering the agreement impractical.
Furthermore, there was an irregular change of ownership of the health center without the UPF’s knowledge. The project was registered as a private limited liability company with two Iranians owning 98 percent and two percent shares, excluding the UPF.
The hospital failed to implement the agreed-upon 50 percent subsidy on the treatment of Police staff and their immediate dependents, adding to the list of concerns.
MPs emphasized the urgent need for the lands ministry to establish and declare all government-owned land to prevent illegal possession of such land. Many complaints were raised regarding erroneous land allocations and the lack of registration for government land.
The Minister of Lands, Hon. Judith Nabakooba, acknowledged the government’s failure to survey and title its land as required. She committed to providing an update on all government-owned and registered land within two weeks.