By Sania Babirye
Land Division High court judge Alexanderia Rugardya Nkonge has refused to allow Kampala lord Mayor Erias Lukwago to cross examine Kampala businessmen Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu (Younger) in a case filed by the Traders demanding for an independent account to deposit their rent arias until court determines who manages the buildings .
Justice Nkonge has ruled that this might pre-empty the main case before her in which Horizon Coaches sued the two businessmen for illegally occupying its buildings.
The case had come up for hearing, but the judge instead ordered all parties to file in their written submissions since one of the correspondents (Horizon Coaches) had not filed in their reply.
The judge has also set to give its ruling on the matter on notice.
Meanwhile, the Uganda Bus Operators Association Ltd has also claimed ownership of Qualicel bus terminal and has since issued a note dated 15th of April 2019 demanding rent from the Traders.
According to Uganda Bus Operators Association chairperson Hamim Ssetongo, he holds the legitimate title of the building and that none of the three businessmen is allowed to operate from them .
On the 12th of this month, the Traders on the three building being claimed by Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu, the late Muhangi Family and now UBOA withdrawn their case from the high court civil division and filed it before the the High court Land division following the mysterious way in which the case file was allocated to a new judge without their knowledge.
Through their lawyer Erias Lukwago, the traders contended that their case file was first case listed before Justice Musa Ssekana and was set for hearing on the 8th of this month but when it came for hearing, they were surprised to see that tge original judge was dropped and replaced bu justice Andrew Bashaijja without their knowledge.
The traders claimed that they were not getting justice before justice Bashaija and asked for their file transfer.
As a result, Justice Bashaijja accepted their request but for the second time ordered that the frustrated traders pay costs to the businessmen because they had incurred costs along the way through hiring lawyers to represent them in the high court.
The businessmen also said they are demanding a 2 billion compensation from the Traders since they their lawyer Lukwago did not follow the right procedures in withdrawing the case.
On the 10th of April the same judge (Basaijja) ordered the Traders to pay costs to the businessmen after dismissing their application with costs in which they wanted court to allow another file before the ongoing land division to be added to this current file before the high court civil division.
The three buildings include Qualicel, Nabukeera and Jamboree all located at downtown Kampala.
Justice Bashaijja dismissed Lukwago’s application in which he wanted to appeal a ruling that had denied him a chance to amend his pleadings before the court.
The case had came up for hearing and during his submissions, Lukwago had asked court to allow him to add an application that is before the Land division to be part of that in the civil division of the High court.
Justice Bashaijja instead declined Lukwago’s submissions and ordered that the application be heard as it is.
The 291 traders through their lawyer Erias Lukwago had petitioned the court to allow them to deposit their rent arias on an independent account until court determined who owned and managed the said buildings.
The Traders want to deposit rent monies with a safe account in court until court decides on who of the three warring parties including Drake Lubega , Mansur Matovu and the management of Horizon Coaches formerly belonging to the late businessman Charles Muhangi owns and manages the said buildings .
The buildings are currently being claimed by city businessmen Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu alias Young and the late rally driver Charles Muhangi through his Horizone coaches ltd.
On the 2nd of April, 291 the traders filled their suit escorted by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago asking court to summon the warring factions to appear before court and clarify on who is the real owner and manager of the contentious buildings.
Currently, both Lubega and Mansur are claiming ownership of the building following the sudden and abrupt death of Muhangi in February this year to whom the traders were paying their rent arrears too.
These have since informed the traders that the buildings belongs to them not the late Muhangi whom the supreme court had declared owner of the buildings.
And worse still the now new owners and managers are forcing the traders to not only pay their current arrears to them, but also repay five months arrears that they had paid to Muhangi when he was still alive.
These have also gone ahead and closed the shops of those traders who are not willing to clear to them the already rent arrears that they had paid to the late Muhangi which has seen traders protesting.
However, the traders insist that they do not know who is the real owner and manger of the buildings to whom they should pay rent too since the court had declared that Muhangi owned the said buildings and he was doing so until his sudden death.
The traders also insist that if court clarifies on the rightful owner, that they are willing to pay the rent arias to him starting with the new months (February) but not even the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi through Horizon Coaches ltd as being demanded by the alleged new owners.
According to the traders, the supreme court placed the management of the three buildings under Horizon Coaches ltd on the 5th of November 2018.
These further claim that after the supreme court order, the buildings were renovated and renamed Horizon city and Bazanya Nengo respectively and each tenant was ordered to pay a 1.2 million shillings as registration fee which they cleared .
They further state that the tenants have since then been paying rent fees ranging from 400, 000 to 3 million shillings to Horizon Coaches until some time in February this year when both Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu showed up each claiming ownership and management of the 3 buildings.
The traders say that apart from the two claiming owners hiring stick wielding men and security to beat them, these have also turned off electricity and other utilities and locking their shops and threatened to evict any trader who wi continue with paying their rent arrears to Horizon Coaches.
These are now asking court to issue an injunction stopping the 2 businessmen from further trespassing and interfering with their business premises until issues of management are clarified and settled by court .
They also want court to order Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu to pay them General damages for loss of business and inconvenience after the two closed their shops yet they had cleared their due rent arrears.
On the 21st of March this year the traders closed their shops and protested after their power was switched off by allegedly Young after they refused to pay the double rent.
These were also demanding an independent account on which they should pay their rent because they were tired of paying rent to one person and then after someone else comes and claims to be the real owner of the building.
It took Kampala central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko’s intervention to have the power turned on and promised to take the traders grievances to Parliament fir redress.