MPs Reject Ministry of Lands Request for Shs21bn to Relocate Kasoli Housing Project
Members of Parliament on the Committee of Physical Infrastructure are opposed to a Shs21.6 billion request from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to relocate Kasoli housing project in Tororo Municipality.
Kasoli housing project is a government low-income housing project that was spearheaded and implemented by the Lands ministry from 2011-2016 in Tororo with the intent of bringing house finance to the low income slum dwellers by subsidizing the cost of housing below market rates to make them affordable.
Whereas phase one of the $2.4m project was completed, the project that houses 92 housing units is up for demolition in order to pave way for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line. This prompted protest from the tenants who petitioned Parliament over the eviction threat and delayed compensation by SGR.
While appearing before the Committee on Tuesday, 1 February 2022, Irene Gwokyalya, Acting Commissioner Housing Development and Estates Management at the Ministry of Lands, said that the Ministry needs Shs21.6billion to relocate the housing project. The Ministry also needs Shs8.63billion to compensate the Project Affected Persons with Dfcu Bank taking Shs3.18billion as outstanding mortgage.
Whereas the MPs undertook to support the Lands Ministry to expeditiously compensate the tenants, they were averse to the Ministry’s request for Shs21.6billion to relocate the project saying it would breed another ‘white elephant.’
“The issue of relocation might turn out to be another failed project. You can’t compensate people for a project, and then you again spend another Shs21billion to relocate the same people after compensation. How does value for money come here?” said Hon Rolland Ndyomugyenyi (Indep. Rukiga County).
Both Henry Maurice Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula South) and Hon Ibanda Rwemuliya (Indep. Ntoroko County) concurred with Hon Ndyomugyenyi saying it was unnecessary and wasteful to relocate the same housing project.
The Shadow Minister for Lands and Housing, Hon. Ronald Balimwezo proposed that the Lands Ministry looks for land elsewhere for the SGR and spare the housing project that is projected to be a model low cost housing project in the country.
“There is no single housing project that has broken events in this country. We have just birthed Kasoli housing project and before the ‘baby’ starts to walk, we already want to demolish and relocate it. You are requesting for Shs21.6billion to relocate the housing project, why not look for Shs3billion to procure land elsewhere to divert the railway line project?” Balimwezo proposed.
The Physical Committee chaired by Vice Chairperson Robert Kasolo cited a lot of discrepancies in the compensation scheme and demanded that the officials from Lands Ministry present documents detailing the list of persons who have been compensated and those scheduled for payment.
Minister of State for Urban Development, Hon Mario Obiga Kania promised to have all the vital documents in regard to Kasoli housing project submitted to the Committee before end of this week.