Masaka Municipality suffers losses as private developers bribe to have plans approved

Masaka Municipality is losing millions of Shillings as private developers erect buildings without approved physical plans. The problem is blamed on corruption and thin number of staff in the physical planning department to enforce the physical planning regulations.

Approving a square meter on each physical plan costs Shillings 1000. However, a report by Masaka Municipality Technical Committee shows that dozens of unapproved buildings have sprung up. Uganda Radio Network has seen a list of ten buildings earmarked for demolition on grounds that they built illegally.

Last year, Masaka municipality demolished a commercial building belonging to Frank Tekaya, along Bukakata road in Nyendo trading center on grounds that it was erected in the road reserve. Tekaya dragged Masaka municipality to court for demolishing his building despite the fact that he had an approved plan.

Court ruled in favor of Tekaya and ordered Masaka Municipality to compensate him Shillings 800 million for illegally demolishing his building. The municipality has however appealed against the compensation. Tekaya claims that he met all physical planning requirements and paid for all the processes involved.

Joseph Kimbowa, the Masaka town Clerk says Tekaya’s plan was irregularly approved.

Kimbowa says although the physical planner, environment officer and health officer are supposed to issue permits, they don’t have a final say on the approval of the building plans, saying the powers lie in his office. According to Kimbowa, currently they only have a single physical planner yet it division has to have a planner.

He says the municipality is losing millions of Shillings in local revenue because many developers to pay for the approval of their building plans. According to Kimbowa, they have launched investigations into the physical plans of more than 40 new buildings in the municipality.

Martin Kigozi, the Physical Planner of Masaka Municipality, declined to comment on the matter, saying he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. However, many of the developers accused of flouting the physical planning regulations claim their plans are approved by the authorities.

One of the developers accused of building in the road reserve along Kidda road insists that their plan was approved by the municipality but declined to show our reporters copies of his plan. Joseph Lukwago, an Architect in Masaka town blames the physical planning on corruption and rampant transfer of civil servants.

Godfrey Kayemba, the Mayor Masaka Mayor Municipality says they need over 10 people to fill the vacant posts in the physical planning department. He however, they can’t recruit the required personnel without approval from the Public Service Ministry.

Last financial year, Masaka Municipality only realised 1.2 billion out of the projected Shillings 2 billion local revenue collection. Approval of building plans and permits is expected to generate at least 10 percent of the required revenue.


Masaka Car dealers ignore Police’s directive to close business

A number of car dealers in Masaka municipality have continued operating in defiance of a police directive to close business. Last week, Police ordered the car dealers to close after some of their colleagues were implicated for selling stolen vehicles.

The decision came after the Police Flying Squad recovered three vehicles from some car dealers in Masaka. Some of the car dealers operate in the green belt along Batch Avenue, others in the compound of Data Mine Technical Institute, others between Barclays Banks and Crane Bank and along Kampala Road opposite Umeme offices.

Maxwell Ogwal, the Greater Masaka Region Police Commander, says they suspect robbers connive with the car dealers to steal vehicles. He identifies some of the latest stolen vehicles as registration number UAS 296QD, UAX 993G and UAW 201W.

He says as a result, they ordered all car dealers to close immediately until they are licensed to operate. But Hajj NK Baker, the chairperson Masaka Car Dealers Association, says Police has no authority to close their business.

According to Baker, his bond is registered and no stolen vehicle was found there. He says although many of them operate in open spaces, they are known to Masaka municipality and Uganda Revenue Authority.

He asks Police to present details of the stolen vehicles and impound them instead of closing their business. Joy Walusimbi, the Masaka Resident District Commissioner and Masaka Municipal Council officials have opposed the clamp down on the car dealers.

According to Walusimbi, it is wrong to clamp down on people’s business without concrete evidence. She says the Police Flying Squad raided the car dealers without any evidence of the purported vehicle thefts.

Godfrey Kayemba, the Mayor Masaka Municipality says they approved the operations of the car dealers, warning that closing their business will fuel vehicle thefts.


Masaka SSS school dormitory burns down due to suspected short circuit

Over 200 students were last night rescued from fire that gutted a boy’s dormitory at Masaka secondary schools in Masaka municipality.

The fire whose cause is still unknown started after midnight when majority of the students were back from preps and were sleeping.

Eyewitnesses say they had something like an explosion inside the dormitory sealing before fire spread and destroyed the entire block of the dormitory.

Survivors told Uganda Radio Network that they don’t know what the cause of the fire is. They say they were asleep when they had fellow students shouting. The students lost books, clothes, mattresses among other items.

One of the teachers at Masaka secondary school who declined to reveal his identities because the school management stopped them to disclose anything to the media said the affected dormitory accommodated over 200 students. He said they all escaped and survived being burnt in the fire.

One of the fire police officer who rushed to the scene says by the time they reached, the dormitory was nearly burnt down by fire. He suspects the school fidgeted with the fire before calling for fire tender to put it out.

Ibin Ssenkumbi, the greater Masaka region police spokesperson has confirmed the fire outbreak. He says they found most of the property within the dormitory destroyed but he says there was no casualty.

He says police suspects the fire was caused by short circuit although he cannot entirely rule out foul play.

The school management has however blocked Uganda Radio Network from visiting the scene of the fire saying it is not necessary.

Masaka secondary school has deployed guards at the school gate stopping unauthorized people from visiting the school after the fire.

Hajj Musoke Mpungu, the Masaka Secondary school head teacher has not yet commented on the fire outbreak.

Uganda Radio Network has seen students gathering at the school compound .
In 2007, students of Masaka secondary school set on fire a school staff room over Dstv.

They also set on fire the television sets accusing the school of poor meals and failure to show them premier League. Over 200 students were expelled from the school that year over the riot.




Masaka police searching for 6 prisoners who fled from cells

Masaka Police have launched a manhunt for six minor offenders for escaping from lawful custody. They suspect escaped from Masaka Police Cells through the ventilator at around 2am in the wee hours of this morning.

The suspects, who are said to be between 14 and 17 years of age, were picked up in an operation by the Police Flying Squad in Nyendo and Kijjabwemi on Wednesday last week for alleged theft and illegal possession of a firearm.

Iddi Ibin Ssenkumbi, the Southern Region Police spokesman, says the suspects broke the ventilators to exit the cells. According to Ssenkuumbi, they have launched a manhunt for the suspects.

He also says two police officers who were on guard duty when the suspects escaped have been arrested to help with investigations into the matter. They include Alex Tebulya and Phionah Kushemerera.


Six people who were under monitoring for Ebola and Marburg like symptoms at Masaka regional referral hospital have been discharged after they got out of danger.

The hospital superintendent Dr. Florence Tugumisirize says all the six patients who were admitted at isolation unit were cleared to go back home after testing negative to the highly contagious virus.

The patiences have been admitted at facilities suffering from strange disease with symptoms similar to those of deadly fever which puts the whole community into great fear.

Dr. Tugumisirize reveals the patience suffered from Salmonella type virus which cause which causes rare type of typhoid fever left the district had registered four deaths in period of five weeks.


Newly elected legislator held for Forgery

Cissy Diniozio Namujju, the Lwengo woman Member of Parliament elect in trouble for alleged forgery.  Namujju appeared on Monday evening before Samuel Munobe, the Masaka Chief Magistrate where she was charged with uttering forged academic papers for her nomination as Lwengo woman parliamentary candidate.

Court heard that on 15th August and 2nd December 2015, Namujju uttered forged academic papers for her nomination in the NRM party primaries and general elections respectively. Namujju is accused of presenting forged ordinary level certificates contrary to the penal code act.

Sheba Byakutaaga, the Masaka Resident State Attorney told court that the suspect was served twice to appear and respond to the allegations of forgery brought against her in vain. It is also alleged that upon receipt of the summons, Namujju tore them into pieces.

According to Byakutaaga, this prompted court to issue an arrest warrant for the accused. While appearing before court on Monday, through Namujju, pleaded not guilty through her lawyer, Joseph Wasswa. She also denied receiving the said summons, saying she was being accused falsely.

She applied for bail and presented sureties. However, the state objected to the bail application, saying there was sufficient evidence to show that the suspect received the summons but deliberately declined to appear before court. Byakutaaga prayed for an adjournment such that they can prove their case against the accused.

In his ruling, Samuel Munobe, the Masaka Chief Magistrate remanded Namujju to Masaka central prison until March 23rd when the matter will come up for hearing. Munobe said he had personally issued the arrest warrants following the failure by the accused to respond to the summons.
.The magistrate said he was satisfied with the submission from the state showing that Namujju disrespected court summons and therefore rejected her bail application. Namujju was picked up by Criminal Investigation and Intelligence officers from her home in Namusuba in Kampala district.



ON DUTY: European Union Election Observation Mission in Uganda Team

Following an invitation from the Government of Uganda, the European Union has established a mission to observe the 18th February General Elections. The Chief Observer of the Election mission is Mr. Eduard Kukan, a Slovak member of the European Parliament. The mission comprises around 120 observers from all EU countries, as well as Norway.

The EU Mission in Uganda says a credible national voters’ register is key to a transparent election. Marian Gabriel, the Deputy Chief Observer at the EU Election Observation Mission 2016, says the Electoral Commission must ensure that the voters’ register is accurate and void of scrutiny from the opposition and the electorate.

Marian says the biometric system is one of the steps the EU Observer Mission thinks will provide safeguards against fraud during the 2016 general elections.

Marian was speaking at the dispatch of thirty EU long-term observers who will be monitoring the campaign period in the run up to the February 18 polls and after.

Thirty EU long-term Observers, grouped in two-person teams, departed yesterday from the Election Observation Mission’s headquarters in Kampala to their respective areas of responsibility across the country.

“They will be observing all aspects of the electoral process in their duty areas, meeting with election officials, candidates and civil society representatives. They will report back to the core team in Kampala and the information they provide will be the basis for the mission’s assessment”, said Mr. Marian

The observers will be based in Kampala, Mityana, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kabarole, Masindi, Arua, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale and Jinja districts.

Closer to Election day, around 80 short-term observers will join the mission. Two days after the election, a Preliminary Statement will be presented by the Chief Observer in a press conference.

Marian says the observers will focus on the presidential and parliamentary campaigns to monitor media access to candidates and the role of security forces in the elections, among others.

Photo Credit: