Privatisation Unit fails to recover proceeds from the sale of Railways land
The Privatisation Unit under the Ministry of Finance has said that it has demanded in vain for the payment of Shs69 billion from the sale of Uganda Railways property in Nsambya and Kibuli.
Although Uganda Railways was meant to get Shs69.5 billion for the 57 acres of land, 10 years later this money has not been provided, yet there are developments already in the area. The land was allocated to Janet Kobusingye the owner of Mestil Hotel, Charles Kimera, Islamic University, House of Dawda, CTM Uganda Limited, Access Uganda Limited and Yas Company.
The others are’ Alumus Properties, M/S Fairplay Services Ltd and Kampala International University among others in 2010. The land was allocated in compensation to investors who had missed out on the Naguru-Nakawa Estate land. The sale of the land was meant to cushion Uganda Railways which was at the time struggling financially.
Uganda Railways transferred the land to Uganda Land Commission on the directive of the President and money amounting Shs69 billion was supposed to be paid to the Uganda Railways Corporation.
Appearing before the Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) chaired by Hon Joel Ssenyonyi, Moses Mwase who heads the Privatisation Unit which facilitated the process indicated that after the transactions, they have written several times to the Ministry of Finance to provide funds related to the sale, but this has never been met.
He said that they have several letters written to the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury but they have never got the money to date.
“We have written several requests and reminders on not one or two occasions to the Secretary to the treasury; in fact, we have included this as an outstanding receivable so that this money can be passed on to Uganda Railways,” Mwase said.
Ssenyonyi tasked the team to return with evidence of written letters so that the committee can trace where the money went. He says that the Privatisation Unit should be held accountable in regards to the money not being paid.
“We want to get to the bottom of this; we must see the correspondence to prove that the Privatisation Unit has tried its best to secure this money for Uganda Railways; they still have challenges and cannot pay NSSF,” he said.
Meanwhile, the committee has also summoned the Mbarara North MP, Hon Robert Mwesigwa to explain how he acquired four prime properties belonging to Uganda Railways in Kampala.
Ssenyonyi found out that the Mwesigwa acquired four pieces of land in Port Bell and one in Mulago. This is as the committee was probing into the sale and giveaway of Uganda Railways land to investors.
The Committee also wants General David Ssejusa who acquired a property on Lake Drive, Port Bell to as well explain how he got the land.
The questions follow concerns that some of the procurement processes for disposing of the railway properties were not followed.
“The properties advertised were 10; however, the properties that were eventually sold were 15.What explains this? There was no public bidding for some of the properties”, Ssenyonyi asked.
Mwase however, said that the properties were not advertised because sitting tenants were given priority.
Hon Yusuf Nsibambi (FDC, Mawokota South) questioned why some key Ugandans are the only ones who managed to buy the properties.
“Was this a fair exercise or did you act under duress? How can highly connected officers be the ones to take the properties,” he said.
He demanded that all bid documents should be provided to show the winners of the process.
Hon Richard Sebamala (DP, Bukoto County Central) told the committee that there was a deliberate move to sell off the different prime land to connected people.
“Are you aware that the house of the Managing Director of Uganda Railways around Nakasero was rehabilitated for Shs350 million but sold off weeks later?’’ he asked.
COSASE tasked the Privatisation Unit to come up with a list of all successful bidders, the cost of the properties, how much the unsuccessful bidders provided and the performance of the successful bidders.