The Ministry of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs has appealed to Parliament for an allocation of UGX 40 billion to compensate former tenants of the Nakawa-Naguru housing estate.
The government had previously displaced these tenants to make way for a Satellite City project led by Opec Prime, a private investor. However, the anticipated development fell through, prompting the Cabinet to annul the agreement and allocate the land to various private developers instead.
Sadat Kisubi, Assistant Commissioner of Finance and Planning in the President’s Office, presented this request while addressing the Presidential Affairs Committee to elucidate the 2024/25 national budget framework paper for the Ministry of Kampala
“There is a sticky issue that the Committee is aware of, the issue of Naguru-Nakawa tenants compensation. It has been on for years with a funding gap of Shs40Bn, some people are already dying. COVID-19 took many of our people, it will be very bad if people die without their pay and we have no funding indicated,” said Kisubi
Naome Kabasharira, MP Rushenyi County, lambasted the Government for failing to compensate people who were displaced from their homes with promises that they would return to better houses after the Opec Prime Project.
“It is a shame that today, there is no allocation, is it because this land was just taken away and the tenants pushed away?” asked Kabasharira.
Maj Gen Henry Matsiko, Army MP, wondered why the Ministry had taken so long to deal with these compensations.
“This is puzzling, is this a matter that has been considered, is there any validity in this issue? Why the delay on a sensitive, social and political matter like this?” he wondered.
In April 2022, the former tenants of Nakawa-Naguru estate rejected the compensation offer of UGX 40.562 billion by the Government with each supposed to walk home with UGX 17.797 million. The tenants insisted that they cannot take the money because it was too little to help them purchase and build on new plots within Kampala.
Through their association, Naguru-Nakawa Registered Tenants Association, the former tenants described the UGX 40 billion offer as “handouts’’, hence proposing to the Government to secure for them about 30 acres of land which they can develop on their own.
During the probe into the matter in 2022, the Ministry of Kampala and Capital City Affairs proposed to compensate the former occupants with UGX 40.5 billion for payment of the 1,971 sitting tenants. Out of this, the Ministry proposed to spend UGX 35.078 billion on the compensation of 1,971 sitting tenants while UGX 5.484 billion would cover administrative costs.
Law on street kids
Meanwhile, the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Minsa Kabanda, has called on Parliament to enact a law banning the public from giving out money and items to street children.
The Minister says that the Government is wasting a lot of money relocating the vulnerable children, who end up returning to the same streets with the hope of being given money. The Minister was leading the Kampala Ministry team before the Presidential Affairs Committee to explain the 2024/25 Budget Framework Paper.
“Up to now, they are still coming; there is a lot of money being wasted on these street children, so I think we need your intervention as Parliament. As Cabinet pronounces itself, you also need to pronounce yourself that we come up with a bill not to give them money on the streets because they are collecting money. We aren’t afraid, but I think we have done what we are supposed to do for us. We enforce with our small budget, then they come back on the streets,” she said.
Kabanda’s remarks were in response to a concern raised by Maj Gen Henry Masiko, an Army Representative who asked whether KCCA had turned street children into tourist attractions, which could explain why the Authority didn’t budget for the activities of getting the kids off the street next financial year.
“My colleague talked about street children, if you are talking of tourism, maybe that is one of the tourist attractions but I thought it is a disgrace that somebody was mocking us that potholes are also a tourist attraction,” Gen Matsiko said.
The Minister replied;
“The Ministry of Gender is in charge, but however much we remove them from the streets, where are you going to put them? But when I remove them from the streets, I will still need money to give them food, we have to be with shelters to put those children.”
Jacob Karubanga, MP Kibanda County said that although he has noted while driving around the City that the number of street kids had reduced, there is a need for the Authorities to come up with lasting solutions to the issue of street children in Uganda.
“But what strategy do we have to completely wipe them out? And the other day we were suggesting, why don’t we have daily operations rather than carrying out those very expensive operations? Identify them, threaten them, keep them off rather than budgeting for a very huge sum of money to conduct an operation once in six months.”
The development comes at a time when during the festive season, KCCA was embroiled in a social media spat with some X formerly Twitter users who gave out food to some street children, an action the Authority deemed as illegal on grounds that it would entice more children to run away from home and come to the streets.
However, some X users mocked KCCA’s reaction, saying the entity had failed to come up with a tangible solution to end the plight of the street children and also castigated KCCA for trying to criminalise moral actions like feeding the vulnerable children.
In September 2023, Parliament tasked the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to explain the whereabouts of 700 street children that were captured in their database, yet their whereabouts remain a mystery.
This followed a revelation in the 2022 Auditor General’s report that raised concern over the lack of a database on street children in Uganda by the Ministry of Gender.
The report highlighted that whereas the ministry estimated that the number of street children could be 1,000, only 292 children could be accounted for leaving over 700 children untraceable. The report indicated that 249 children were at Masulita Children’s Home, 21 babies in Naguru Babies’ home and 22 babies in various prisons with their mothers.
The 2015 report by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) in the Situation Analysis of Children in Uganda report, categorised orphans and street children among the vulnerable groups. It estimated that 11 per cent of Uganda’s children are orphans and that more than half of all children are either moderately or critically vulnerable, noting that these children are more likely to die before the age of five, suffer from malnutrition, exploitation, abuse and neglect, have inadequate access to education, and be more exposed to commercial exploitation.