Officials from Opec Prime Properties Ltd, a company formerly contracted to develop ultramodern satellite towns in the Naguru-Nakawa housing estate, have told Parliament of a litany of frustrations they faced in their attempt to deliver the same in the capital, Kampala.
Opec Prime was awarded a contract and land in 2006 to construct 1,747 flats, bungalows, commercial buildings, a five-star hotel, a referral hospital, schools, houses of worship and recreational facilities in the estate.
However, before they could mobilise, their contract, extracted from a Public Private Partnership Agreement, was terminated in 2019 by Cabinet over alleged financial and technical incompetence.
Following allegations that part of the land had been irregularly given out to some investors, the then Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter.
According to Opec Prime’s director, Hassan Kimbugwe, while appearing before the Hon. Dan Kimosho chaired ad hoc committee investigating the illegal sale of land in the Naguru-Nakawa estate on Thursday, 05 May 2022, said the grounds on which their contract was terminated were baseless and out of malice by some government institutions.
“You can imagine, after winning the bid and signing agreement in 2006, it took five years to get the tittles of the land we were allocated,” said Kimbugwe.
Andrew Tendo, a consultant with Opec Prime said that since the project inception in 2006, Opec Prime has been involved in endless court cases, alongside delays by government to approve commencement of works.
“We constructed a slab upon approval by Kampala Capital City Authority but after construction, KCCA wrote to us that where the slab was constructed has been earmarked for a bus lane and that we should move it, yet for the past 10 years the bus lane has never been constructed,” said Tendo.
He explained that although Opec Prime had initially agreed to construct and sell off apartments at a subsidised price, government later on allocated part of their land to the Aga khan University, rendering the project unprofitable.
Kimbugwe added: “Once they gave away land to Aga Khan and still expected the developer to give out apartments at a subsidised price, it could no longer make any sense. The agreement was that we develop the land, recoup our profit and then give out the apartments at a subsidised price.”
MPs questioned Kimbugwe on why they did not oppose the government move to allocate land to the Aga Khan University in court and further wondered whether it was not a sign of financial incompetence to develop the land.
“Did you really have adequate money to build that satellite city? Government could have given them [Aga Khan University] land somewhere else?” asked Hon. Sarah Opendi (NRM, Tororo District Woman MP).
Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa, asked Opec Prime why they would illegally lease government land to individuals as alleged by witnesses who appeared before the committee.
“The third parties are making complaints that you gave away government land. Did the law allow you to give out land?” asked Basalirwa.
Kimbugwe reiterated that Opec Prime was as per the agreement with government, allowed to sub lease to fellow co-developers who would express interest in developing structures within Opec Prime’s master plan.
He appealed to Parliament to consider visiting Opec Prime’s projects in other countries like Greece, United Kingdom and Germany among others.