AKON CITY: Local investor challenges land give away

MUKONO — A local investor has vowed to challenge Uganda Land Commission’s (ULC) giveaway of 640 acres to Akon for his Akon city development.

Cash Value Uganda Ltd proprietor Mohammed Katongole, whose company sources for investors, told reporters that since 2019 he has been involved in the process of acquiring the land in question.

He alleged that in the process, he has spent over sh3b in buying off interests of seven freehold title holders on the land and several bibanja holders or tenants.

Katongole said it was saddening for him to learn from the media that ULC had handed over the title for the land in question to lands minister Judith Nabakooba to kick-start a process of agreeing terms of ownership by Aliaune Damala Badara aka Akon.

On his visit to the country last year as a state guest, Akon announced a plan to invest $6b into a futuristic Akon City Uganda.

“The commission never knew that the land exists, it’s me who took them there and we have had several meetings with them. So it’s not fair to give that land to Akon. If they feel indigenous people, then let them pay me off,” he said.

“If it is not possible, let them divide the land, I take 300acres and they give the remaining to Akon under the same terms because I feel I also have capacity to do so,” he added.

“I love Uganda more than Akon because it’s my motherland and I have invested here,” Katongole said.

He insisted that he was ready to go to court to challenge the commission if it goes ahead to give out the land to Akon without considering his bid.

According to the documents seen by reporters, Katongole had applied for 500 acres in 2020 with the intention of investing in recreation development.

“They told me that they will get back to me within two weeks. For over a year, I visited ULC offices until I discovered that my file mysteriously got lost,” he said.

Katongole added that he learnt of the anomaly after he visited and engaged the commission chairperson who looked for the file in vain.

“Then some people in the commission told me that there is a problem with that land because every person you are seeing is interested,” he said.

One square mile given out

ULC acting chairperson Prof. Nyeko Pen Mogi, while handing over the title of the land to Nabakooba on her site visit of the land, disclosed that the land measured one square mile and that was under freehold register Volume 53 Folio 9 and is owned by ULC.

Citing that the site was extremely suitable for a tourism city and for international conferences Nyeko added that it would be offered to Akon on terms and conditions given out by the Government.

Katongole said at the beginning, he can be offered about 300 acres and the remaining piece can be offered to Ugandans who are capable of developing the land.

“I wonder how you bypass a local investor who is having a vision and capacity to do what the foreign investor wants to do,” Katongole said.

After receiving the land title, Nabakooba directed ULC to work with the local authorities in Mukono district to free the land of any squaters.

“I ask you to go back and investigate deeply and work with the district land board and look at documentations properly such that if we are to do the job and communicate to the President, we have our facts right,” she said.

The land

The land in question is located at Muvo in Buleebi village in Mpunge sub-county Mukono district.

Akon City, which is expected to be completed by 2036, is also expected to employ a smart city approach, with features, such as shopping malls, stadia and recreational facilities.

Mpunge sub-county LC3 chairperson Fred Namyalo Muwanga said most residents were concerned whether they will be compensated.

Over 2,000 people and their families are reportedly settled on the land in question.

However, a source added that another dilemma was the fact that Mukono Land Board issued land titles on the same piece of land.

Acting ULC secretary Andrew Nyumba told reporters that their immediate task is to establish the number of people on the land by opening the boundaries before a final decision is made.

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