Government is set open up a bank account where rent from three disputed city arcades will be deposited.
On Tuesday, over 200 traders operating business from Qualicel, Nabukeera and Jamboree arcades petitioned High Court, Land Division seeking to deposit rent in court pending determination of rightful ownership of the properties.
In the same suit, the traders also asked for a permanent injunction restraining city businessmen Drake Lubega and Mansoor Matovu alias Yanga from trespassing onto their shops until the ownership matter in sorted by the courts of law.
The buildings have for years been a center of controversy over ownership between Lubega and Yanga on one side and the late Charles Muhangi. Before his death in December last year, Court had given Muhangi ownership rights of the buildings though the former were not satisfied with the decision.
On Wednesday April 3, 2019, Lubega and Yanga sealed off the arcades by welding the shop entrances without giving any alternative accesses into the buildings citing tenants’ failure to pay rent arrears.
In a press statement dated April 4, 2019, the Minister of State for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs Benny Namugwanya Bugembe said government through the Attorney General are going to negotiate the modality of opening up the escrow account where accruing rent for the period after February 2019 “shall be paid and held therein until the final case is determined by the courts of law”.
“Government has noted with concern the unfortunate situation going on in-downtown Kampala Central Business District along Nakivubo Road. We wish to condemn the unacceptable actions by some property owners who have been closing shopping arcades without any notice or even due regard to the livelihood of tenants operating in those premises. Government is also fully aware of the on-going property dispute which has dragged Mr. Drake Lubega, Mr. Mansour Matovu a.k.a.Young on the one hand, and the late Charles Muhangi’s family interests in the complex along Nakivubo Road,” she said.
Namugwanya also noted that regarding the property ownership, the status quo shall be maintained until the issue is determined by court or until court issues a contrary order.
“In the interim, no rental arrears shall be demanded from tenants who have proof that they paid to Mr. Muhangi for the period when he was in possession. The tenants are advised to continue paying rent as it falls due.
“Further, Government has also noted with concern that there is on-going construction works being carried out by Mr. Drake Lubega on part of Plot 50-52 Nakivubo Road without obtaining development approval from the Kampala Capital City Authority. Mr. Drake Lubega is thus instructed to follow the development procedure,” the Minister ordered.
Namugwanya also advised the affected tenants to remain calm and to cooperate with the landlord currently in possession of the property, as Government finds a lasting solution to this stalemate.
“Police is also directed to ensure that the premises are accessible and calm and that there is no unwarranted disruption of business operations.”