The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has tasked the leadership of Jinja District to formalize the acquisition of land to facilitate the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi heritage and conference centers.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British Rule.
Kadaga’s concern follows Igara County West Member of Parliament (MP) Raphael Magyezi’s motion which was passed by the House on October 30, 2019, to have both the heritage and conference centers built at the Source of the Nile.
Another concern was a decision by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and that of Tourism to have the Mahatma Gandhi Conference Centre built in Entebbe, and leave the Heritage Centre in Jinja.
On Tuesday Kadaga met the Jinja leadership, MPs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to find out whether the land in question is there.
“There has been a lack of clarity on whether the land is there and whether it is sufficient for the heritage center. During the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, the Speaker of the Parliament of India asked me how far we had gone but I did not have a clear answer for him,” Kadaga said.
The Senior Physical Planner for Jinja Municipality, Charles Nampendo said about 10 acres of land were available at the Source of the Nile for development.
“The land there that was illegally allocated measures up to 15 acres. Once the illegal titles are canceled and we add this to the 10 acres, we can have enough land for both facilities,” said Nampendo.
However, former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Daudi Migereko dismissed Nampendo’s idea of canceling titles without engaging people on that land.
Migereko said it would be prudent to engage the title owners rather than cancel the them without prior notice, saying some of the said illegal titles could have been legitimately acquired.
“Invite the people whose titles you want to cancel, look at the titles and see if they require any compensation or alternative for them. Here, we can avoid unnecessary court processes,” said Migereko, also Chairman Board of Directors, UTB.
The Speaker said the matter was urgent and directed the Jinja Town Clerk to acquire a title deed and present it to Parliament, to show commitment to the project, for funding to be availed.
She also tasked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to present a report on the scope and status of a grant to fund the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Heritage Centre and Mahatma Gandhi Conference Centre.
The Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Charles Ssentongo, told the meeting that discussions between the Government of Uganda and that of India had established that the Mahatma Gandhi Conference Centre would be built in Entebbe and the Heritage Centre in Jinja.
“We request that you give us time to confer with the Indian High Commission on how fast the money can be released if the land is made available,” said Ssentongo.
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