Row erupts as town clerk, friends, accused of grabbing Freedom Square

Iganga town is in uproar after the central division speaker Paul Muwereza accused the town clerk Hussein Kato of grabbing a public space popularly known as Freedom Square.

Muwereza accuses senior town clerk Kato of selling eight to ten plots of land of Freedom Square to rich developers in Iganga.

Muwereza claims the developers parted with between 20 to 25 million shillings to purchase the plots where they intend to construct permanent structures.

He further alleges that Kato issued a December 10, 2021 eviction notice to residents and owners of temporary kiosks in Freedom Square that claimed market vendors affected by the redevelopment of Iganga Central Market were to be relocated.

Muwereza charges that Kato did not have such authority because, "The municipal authority has neither a valid resolution of the council for approval of the change of user of the said land. Nor submitted a proposal for change of user to the board for approval as required by law.”

He therefore called upon the construction on the land to cease immediately, “In the view of the above, the intended development constitutes an offence under the Physical Planning Act and such any development in respect of which an offence is committed is Null and void and the development should be discontinued.”

He also reported the matter to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development who sent investigators to Iganga.

Lands officials led by Wilson Awuzu, a physical planning manager, inspected Freedom Square on last Friday.

Muwereza had to be asked to leave by Awuzu after rowdy builders at Freedom Square threatened to attack him. Awuzu, who was representing Lands minister Judith Nabakooba, had to call for police to keep law and order as they carried out their assessment.

Residents during the meeting with the ministry officials (Photo by Teven Kibumba)

Awuzu said, “It's good we have come and we promise to take back our report to the board for further investigations but we ask both parties to keep peace until when the final investigation is done.”

Several members of the business community in Iganga expressed concern at the developments in Iganga Freedom Square. They said that this was the last remaining green space in the town and should not be taken over.

Urban public spaces play a crucial role in sustainable neighborhoods. In recent years, urban public space have been gradually disappearing, which has consequences for the spatial patterns of urban land use.

Construction of the lockups at Iganga Freedom Square

By press time, construction of the permanent structures at Iganga Freedom Square continues.

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