Entebbe. As Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) demolished illegal buildings and other structures constructed in road reserves along Kampala–Entebbe High way on Monday, Millennium Chambers was skipped.
Millennium Chambers is owned by deputy Attorney GeneralMwesigwa Rukutana but part of the building stands in a road reserve.
Unra issued a 30- day notice compelling whoever encroached on road reserves to vacate by May 15 to pave way for the expansion of Entebbe Highway.
On Tuesday morning, UNRA bulldozers descended on the illegal structures constructed around Bwebajja, Kitende, Lweza, and Zzana but did not demolish that of Mr Rukutana located in Najjanankumbi, which is a distance of 5Km from Kampala City.
Mr Rukutana is also Member of Parliament for Rushenyi County in Ntungamo district.
The Unra enforcement officer, Mr John B Ssejemba, defended that Mr Rukutana had earlier called them and complied with the notice to demolish part of his hotel [Millennium Chambers] that stands in a road reserve.
“Mr Rukutana accepted the mistake and agreed to demolish part of his hotel. Once someone complies, we don’t demolish their property but give him time to remove the building on his own,” said Mr Ssejemba.
When reached for a comment, Mr Rukutana consented he had complied with the directive and would remove part of his building which is in the road reserve to serve as an example to others.
“I am an MP and we are the ones who makes laws and I can’t defeat the laws we make ourselves that is why I have complied to serve as an example for every person who is in the road reserve,” said Mr Rukutana
Buildings within the road reserve that include restaurants, petrol stations, hotels, shops, residential houses and fuel service stations on either side of the more than 36km stretch from Kampala to Entebbe face demolition as Unra embarks on expansion of the road.
The demolition exercise is being done under tight security and supervision provided by the police, Kampala City Council Authority and Unra enforcement officers.
“In order to provide safety for the encroachers, road users and easing the flow of traffic, Unra has started systematic evictions of all encroachers who are still operating from road reserves,” Mr Ssejemba revealed.
The exercise that started on May 15, has seen Kibuye market and several temporary structures like kiosks, stalls, road side bars, taxi and special hire stages, fruit vending vans, flower vending businesses among others demolished.
According to Mr Ssejemba, Unra is considering abolishment of parking along Entebbe Road in order to reduce traffic congestion.
He explained that for the last one year, Unra has engaged road encroachers on all national roads countrywide asking them to voluntarily vacate and majority of them have complied.
Mr Ssejemba said the initial exercise will cover Entebbe Road starting from Kibuye round about to Entebbe International Airport.
The exercise will be rolled out to other national roads in Kampala Metropolitan area such as Jinja Road, Masaka Road, Hoima Road, Bombo Road and other urban centres country wide.
Mr Ssejemba said besides decongesting the roads, Unra intends to expand the roads to 30 metres wide from the present 14 metres in order to accommodate a duo-carriage for easy transport.
However, he noted that Unra will not compensate anybody with property in the road reserve with an exception of those whose property was in place in the 1960s before ministry of Works put mark stones.
Many people whose structures were demolished cried foul at the refusal of Unra to compensate them arguing that they held a series of meetings with the organisation regarding the matter.
Ms Milly Nabukera, an owner of kiosk No 074 in Kibuye, said she got a loan from the bank to run the business and she may not be able to pay back if she is not compensated.
“How do you expect me to pay for the loan and school fees for my children when my business is closed? Unra is being unfair, they must be human. Government should not just look on as the poor are being tormented,” Ms Nabukera said.
“Mr Rukutana accepted the mistake and agreed to demolish part of his hotel. Once someone complies, we don’t demolish their property but give him time to remove the building on his own,”
Mr John B Ssejemba Unra enforcement officer
“I am an MP and we are the ones who makes laws and I can’t defeat the laws we make ourselves that is why I have complied to serve as an example for every person who is in the road reserve,”
Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL