Gulu Mayor in Trouble over Condemned Buildings

3399 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
George Labeja is accused of getting bribes and allowing the condemned buildings to be renovated.

The Mayor of Gulu is in trouble over condemned buildings.
George Labeja is facing censure over allegations of receiving bribes from owners of buildings which were condemned and marked for demolition.
He is accused of getting bribes and allowing the buildings to be renovated.
Gulu Municipal Council passed a resolution two years ago to demolish 161 commercial buildings in the Central Business District. The buildings had been condemned as unfit for human occupation.
The resolution had stated that the owners of the buildings were to vacate them within a period of one month to pave way for demolition.
Some of the commercial structures that had been listed by the council as unfit for human occupation include a building on plot 14 Awere road that is owned by Ali Samba, Plot 19 Awich Road owned by Abdu Abdala, plot 31 Cemetery Road owned by Oola L’apato and a commercial building on plot 28 Acholi Road.
No action has, however, been taken on the buildings two years after the resolution.
Now the councillors who passed the resolution are planning to move a motion to censure the mayor George Labeja over allegations that he received bribes from owners of the affected buildings.
Denis Wakidio, the councillor who is leading the censure of the mayor, claims that they have evidence that Labeja got a bribe from one of the landlords with a condemned building.
Wakidio says they became suspicious when the mayor who had vowed on three local radio stations in Gulu that he was ready to resign if the buildings are not demolished became suddenly silent. He says they recently met one of the owners of the condemned buildings who threatened to expose the politicians using a video recording that he made as he gave them bribes to allow him renovate it.
//Cue in: “He made it very clear…”
Cue out…he has the recording” //
Kelly Komakech, the Speaker of Gulu Municipal Council, also says that another landlord with a building opposite KPS Hotel in Gulu town also said he paid a bribe to save his building.
But the mayor challenges those accusing him to report to police if they have evidence.
// Cue in: “If you a responsible…”
Cue out…up to now in my office” //
URN could not independently verify the claims as the landlords were unwilling to comment on the bribe allegations.
But Mayor Labeja is also in trouble for failing to present before council a recommendation made by the Ministry of Local Government for the management of public affairs in Gulu Municipal Council. The councillors claim the mayor has never showed them the report.
A copy of the report seen by URN recommends for immediate dismissal of the Gulu Municipal Engineer Terence Odonga for being corrupt and unqualified.
Labeja is also accused of failing to account for more than 78 million shillings and authorizing payment for substandard road works.