Government has started the process of repossessing 387 acres of land which had been allocated freely to investors in industrial parks but has been idle for a number of years.
Through the Uganda Investment Authority gives out free land in gazette industrial parks to both foreign and domestic investors.
However, according to the State Minister for Investment, Evelyn Anite, five investors allocated land in the industrial parks of Luzira, Masindi and Namanve have failed to develop it for a number of years promoting government to decide otherwise.
“You have heard parliament blaming us for giving land to quack investors. We have now withdrawn land from those quack investors. Whereas in the past it attracted no penalty, this time round whoever has land withdrawn it will come with a cost because we have to recover that government is spending in those cases ,”Anite said on Tuesday.
Among the investors from which the land was withdrawn include Mariana Agencies Limited who was allocated 76 acres in Namanve to establish a soap and vegetable oil plant or factory in 2014, Surgipham (U) Limited which was allocated three acres in 2007 for the purposes of investment in a warehousing project and Zamburi Holdings, which planned to invest about $1 million was offered 0.5 square miles of land in 2020 for purposes of mixed farming.
However, according to officials from the Uganda Investment Authority, despite failing to develop the land allocated to them freely prompting government to repossess it, some of the investors have ran to court to sue government over the repossession of the idle land.
“During the eight-year period, Mariana has only backfilled a portion and no factory was built within the five-year timeline given. UIA withdrew 50 acres to allocate to other serious investors and to be used for the infrastructure development in the park but Mariana run to the courts to stop UIA from allocating the land to serious investors and developing infrastructure. This running to court action is aimed at stopping jobs for Ugandans,” said UIA Director General, Robert Mukiza.
He said this was the same fate with Surgipham (U) Limited that has no developed their land for 13 years but have opted to run to court to stop the repossession.
“Tirupati Developers Uganda Limited were allocated eight acres here in Namanve in 2009 to develop ware houses and invest over $9 million. During that whole period of over 10 years, they only built warehouses in 2 acres and rented them out contrary to the lease agreement plans. In October 2021, six acres were withdrawn and reallocated to a company which intends to invest $20 million and employ 590 people. Tirupati has gone to court to stop this investment and jobs for Ugandans.”
Minister Anite insisted that government will not relent on ensuring Ugandans don’t lose out on the land given out to quack investors.
“How is UIA expected to set up 500 factories in Namanve when a so-called investor was allocated 75 acres and for 7 years has not even commenced on a foundation for a factory and goes to court to stop the industrialization drive,”Anite wondered.
“As the minister in charge of attracting and promoting investment, I am particularly vested in ensuring that deserving investors have access to the land in the industrial and business parks so as to support the development of our nation.”
Anite said she is going to write to the Attorney General to ensure the cases in court are quickly resolved so that the land can be allocated to others investors but warned that “quack investors” should not be legitimized by courts of law.