HomeBUSINESSMbarara City approved the Kenkombe market to protect its land from grabbers

Mbarara City approved the Kenkombe market to protect its land from grabbers

Joshua Nahamya

Mbarara city council leadership has agreed to construct a daily market at Kenkombe land to protect the 114-acre piece of public land from land grabbers.

Kenkombe land, located in Rwentondo cell in Kakoba division is a popular dumping site that hosts the garbage generated from the city.

In June 2017, Mbarara municipality passed a resolution to parcel out the land hosting the Kenkombe garbage dumping site for redevelopment into a residential area.

The planned estate housing facilities like a school, health center, sports complex, and a five-star hotel were however delayed by the Ministry of Lands, housing, and Urban Development’s approval.

Once completed, the estate would comprise 318 units and would be a great resource to the municipality and its residents.

According to Assy Abirebe Tumwesigire, Mbarara City town clerk, the delay however allowed the land grabbers to steal about 50 acres from Kenkombe land.

He added that the grabbers sued the city council claiming that the land in dispute belongs to them.

“We have an ongoing court case by one identified as Jadress Mubangizi and another one only identified as Kakiga, who are claiming a half of our land [about 50 acres] out of the entire 114 acres,” Tumwesigire said

He added, “We have a land title and they also got a land title on top of our land title so that’s why am saying that we should be careful when planning for Kenkombe land”.

During an extraordinary council on Thursday, councilors led by Betty Tigefera resolved to allocate a market despite the court matter in a bid to protect Kekombe land from the so-called land grabbers.

“Fellow councilors, I want to confirm to you that this land belongs to us, it was bought when we were here, its boundaries are well-known and we even have an original land title,” she said adding that, now if you stand here, and say that we are not going to use that land just because it is in court, it means we are losing out” Tigefera explained

“I am proposing that instead of disturbing late Murebera’s family scrambling for revenue from their private market, why can’t we construct our own market in Kekombe land which can generate us some good money” she added

Tigefera warned the city management that if the land in contention remains idle, grabbers will take advantage thus appealing to her fellow leaders to support the proposal of allocating the daily market to the contested Kenkombe land.

“It was deliberate for us to cut roads and start dumping garbage in the public land and now that we did all that and the claimants never complained, let’s go back and put a market where council can get money adding that, if they react, then we can also respond” Tigefera explained

Godfrey Baryomunsi, another councilor, insisted that being the landlords, they should go ahead and start the market.

“Being the land owners, let us start our work court will tell but let us not fail to put a market just because that those people took us to court” Baryomunsi said

He said that if it means going to the president, as a council they will match to the president to protect Kenkombe land from land grabbers.

Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi said that the IGG’s office made an intervention and the council is now waiting for the court verdict before developing the land in contestation.

“Over that same land, there was an issue which was taken to the IGG, the IGG made a search and found out that something is missing,” he said

Kakyebezi added that over time, he has been called by some individuals trying to involve him in the Kenkombe land saga.

“I have been called several times by some people from here and others from the centre to be bribed over the same land but I refused.” He said

The mayor said that the land belongs to Mbarara city council thus urging fellow leaders to wait for justice to prevail.

“I request you to remain patient our land title is genuine but the court case is still standing so other things should not come in possibly,” Kakyebezi said

Through Bonny Tashobya Karutsya, Speaker Mbarara City, members anonymously recommended that the council should prepare part of Kenkombe land to create a market rather than running Koranorya market which is operated from Late Murebera’s land.

“Members cannot give leverage to land grabbers in Mbarara to take our land. This is the same way we almost lost our land in Kyarwabuganda cell in Mbarara north division. Someone tried to confuse us to steal our land but when we woke up and moved, things worked similar in the same case” Tashobya explained

He said “As a council it is the projects that we put on our land that will confirm that the land is ours because people are taking advantage of unutilized land. So councillors, we must take action to safeguard our land from grabbers”.

“We shouldn’t wait for the court decision when Mbarara is looking forward to having our markets that are not in contention,” Tashobya said

Byansi Muhammad, councilor representing Kakoba ward, retaliated that the market would interfere with the earlier plan of developing the same land into an estate.

“Mr. Speaker, this very council designed Kenkombe land to be put as an estate, we even approved the plan but I am surprised that the same council is saying that we take their the market,” Muhammad said

Gumisiriza Kyabwisho, mayor representing Mbarara city north division, asked the city leaders to make thorough consultations before allocating a market to Kenkombe land.

“A market has dynamics; you cannot get a market and slow it in space so we need to consult the vendors first to get their opinions before allocating their market. Otherwise we may create a market just for the sake of protecting land from land grabbers but not a market that may not give us results” Kyabwisho explained

He also said that land grabbers connived with some of the city staff thus appealing to leaders to stop aiding people to steal the government land.

“They even called to give me one acre on that very land so that I can be part of the team to support them but I refused. Some are even our staff here and they are the same people who let our cemetery be grabbed” Kyabwisho said

This is not the first time Mbarara city has lost part of its land to land grabbers, the most recent one being a city cemetery to a private developer in Rwobuyenje cell Mbarara city north division in 2023.

Lt Col James Mwesigye, Resident city commissioner (RCC) Mbarara, thanked councilors who decided to build a market in Koranorya to save the city land from grabbers.

“Whoever doesn’t want to go there should leave? Why don’t they go there when people are fighting to get where to do business from?” Mwesigye asked

He added that “Fellow civil servants, let’s work but work righteously, more so when we fight corruption vigorously”.

“I want to thank the council because we are now moving. By the way what fails us to work is corruption adding that, punishments are always there to deter other people from committing the similar crime. So Ndugu city clerk please take charge” Mwesigye said



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