Naguru, Nakawa Low Cost Housing Project Hijacked by Wealthy Ugandans

Comments 6633 Views Kampala, Uganda
Reports from the Ministry of Local Government indicate that several wealthy people, including senior Government officials and bureaucrats are purchasing interests in the planned estates from sitting tenants at throwaway prices. A source, who himself purchased interest from a sitting tenant, told Uganda Radio Network that it costs anywhere between five and twenty million shillings to buy titles that ensure first priority consideration for housing once the new settlement is complete. Two weeks ago, a large number of new property owners were invited to the Ministry of Local Government to sign agreements solidifying their purchase of the interest in the Nakawa and Naguru Housing Estates. According to the source, more purchase agreements will be signed in the near future. The redevelopment of the Naguru and Nakawa Housing Estates into an ultra modern satellite town within the City of Kampala is a program of the Central Government and Kampala City Council. It was proposed and approved in the 1994 Kampala District Structure Plan. Currently Naguru and Nakawa Housing Estates have 1,685 dilapidated housing units situated on 66 hectares of land. The two housing estates are standing on prime land and neighbouring exclusive high-income residential areas of Kololo, Bugolobi, and Naguru Hill. PECPRIME Properties, a UK-based company won the tender to redevelop the two estates. The company is expected to construct 1,700 high rise modern flats on 13.2 hectares of land in order to relocate the sitting tenants. The rest of the land will be covered by masionettes, luxurious bungalow residential houses and large modern commercial complexes. A main reason for the redevelopment of the two estates is to provide quality low cost housing for low income earners in line with the National Housing Policy and Shelter Strategy. However many of the sitting tenants are concerned that unscrupulous middlemen are profiting from their economic disadvantages to offer them quick money at the expense of the future prospects for housing within Kampala. Godfrey Kaganda, chairperson of the Naguru-Nakawa Tenants Association, says about half the sitting tenants have sold their interests in the new housing estate because they are uncertain of their ability to afford the rent or mortgage costs of the planned development. He says that given the financial factors involved in the long-term investment, he is not surprised by the number of sitting tenants who are opting out of the deal. //Cue in: iThere is no way #i Cue out: i# the seller and the buyer.i// The purchase of the housing interest from sitting tenants in Nakawa and Naguru estates is not illegal. But analysts say allowing wealthy individuals to buy the low cost properties will defeat the cause for which they are being developed. They argue that the housing stock and especially low cost houses in Kampala fall short of the housing demand and they want legislation to rectify this problem. A final report on the development plan for Naguru and Nakawa Housing Estates available from the Ministry of Local Government website indicates that the majority of tenants want the redeveloped estates to be sold to sitting tenants. However it observes that only 25 percent of the current tenants in the two areas earn in excess of 500,000 shillings per month. 58 percent of tenants in Nakawa and 48 percent of tenants in Naguru earn less than 250,000 shillings per month and are highly unlikely to be able to afford the low cost housing at the redeveloped estate. According to the plan, the cheapest low-income residences will be small two bedroom houses built on only 45 square meters. Under the current Ministry of Local Government arrangement, the low-income residences will cost about 50 million shillings that will be paid through a 10- to 15-year mortgage system. Sitting tenants are being given the option to refuse or accept the offer of housing in those units within six months of their completion. A memorandum of understanding between the tenants and Government states that the tenants are required to make a 10 percent deposit on the unit before occupying it. The disparity between the goal of the redevelopment and the economic realities of the current residents of Nakawa and Naguru however do not seem to be a priority for the local leadership. When Uganda Radio Network visited the office of the Naguru-Nakawa Tenants Association, officials there were busy tending to sitting tenants who were rushing to sign the memoranda of understanding. Patrick Isabirye, the LC2 chairperson of Nakawa, did not comment on the housing dilemma. He said the local leaders are busy grappling with how to deal with tenants, who sold their interests, but have not vacated the houses they were living in. Godfrey Kaganda of the tenants' association had little patience with them. He said all current residents will be relocated as the building of the new housing estate starts and wants those who no longer own rights to live in the area to leave peacefully. //Cue in: iWe are only asking #i Cue out: i# will be affected.i//